Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reflection


Throughout this course, we have examined a variety of learning theories. Each learning theory has its distinct characteristics; however, all focus on student learning (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010d). At the beginning of this course, I had basic knowledge of many of the learning theories presented in this classes. At that time, I contended that I held an eclectic philosophy on how students learned. I believed that there was not one right learning theory and that most had some very important components that educators much be aware of. Through this course, I believe my knowledge about different learning theories and how they relate to technology has deepened dramatically. Even though I still hold an eclectic viewpoint and do not subscribe to one specific theory, I do tend to lean more towards the constructivist and social constructivist learning theories in my instructional practices.  I truly believe it is essential for students to construct their own understanding and be responsible for their own learning. Even though I may lean more towards this theory, it is essential for me to really understand all learning theories to best meet the needs of my students. “It is imperative that teachers begin the transfer process with a full understanding of learning so that they can plan and implement appropriate instruction that will result in learning success.” (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2008 p.10).
 Through this course I am getting a deeper understanding of learning and I am now at the stage where I really need to transfer this knowledge into my teaching practices.

            With the knowledge of how different learning theories really fit into a classroom, especially in regards to technology, I have some adjustments to do in my teaching practices. First of all, I need to use technology more as a student-learning tool more than a teacher instruction tool. According to Dr. Orey, it is essential to use technology as a tool to help students be active learners by having them create and work with the technology tools (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010d).  One way to do this would be through cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is when students interact with each other in groups to enhance their learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). One learning tool we used in this class that I think has the potential to really create a powerful cooperative learning environment is Voice Thread. Since learning about Voice Thread, this has become one of my favorite web 2.0 tools. In the video, “Spotlight on Technology: Voice Thread,” Kevin Jarrett specifically talked about how Voice Thread can bring a class into a conversation (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010c). I am still exploring with this tool, but am excited about the possibilities to have students use this as a way to demonstrate their learning and have students comment, compare, question, and contrast ideas of each other’s work. I believe this will help students critically think and take more time with projects since their work will have real audience critiquing it. The possibilities of Voice Thread are exciting and I look forward to using this tool more in my classroom.

            Other technology tools that I intend to use more since rediscovering them in this course are Virtual Field Trips and web quests. There are so many amazing resources on the Internet and I want to take more advantage of digital tool. I often get into a routine where I just use the curriculum my school district provides. I sometimes forget about the other rich and useful sources available outside mandated curriculum. I find when I use Virtual Field Trips and web quests to enhance the state standards and district curriculum, student interest is greatly intensified and students retain so much more of the information than if they just had used a textbook. One example of this is when we were studying about early human cave art. We did fun and engaging activities from the district curriculum. However, until we went on a specific web quest at http://earlyhumans.mrdonn.org/caveart.html about cave art and toured the Lascaux caves (http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/#/en/00.xml) in France, I do not think students really grasped the importance and purpose of this prehistoric art. One piece of evidence was when students created their own cave art. Most of the students really seemed to grasp the important components of cave art. This can be view on our Voice Thread http://voicethread.com/share/2336940/ (although this is still a work in progress). When a few 6th grade teacher did the same lessons, but without the Virtual Field Trip and web quest, her class did not demonstrate the same learning as my class did. Many of her students were drawing basketballs, flowers, houses, etc. This fellow teacher expressed her frustration on how her students really did not understand the point of the lesson. I shared with her how I enhanced the lesson through these technology tools. She was not only impressed that so many more of my students demonstrated understanding, but also at the idea of using Virtual Field Trips and web quests to add to student learning. I plan on continue using these tools, as well as so many other amazing digital tools, to enrich my students’ learning experiences through technology.

            To continually enrich my students learning experiences, I have two long-term goals. My first goal is to use technology more as a learning tool than an instructional tool. I often use technology to help improve my instructional practices, but tend to forget to make technology more student centered. To do this, I want to become more of a facilitator and allow students to direct their technology learning more. I will do this by having more technology projects and use problem-based learning where students have more opportunities to use and learn with and from technology. By using more of the problem-based inquiry process in my classroom, students will be able to use the higher-order thinking skills and be engaged in activities that are authentic and meaningful to them (Orey, 2001).

The second long-term goal I have to improve student learning through technology more in my classroom is utilizing my SMART board and student response system better. In the past year and a half, I received a SMART board and student response system from a technology grant. I have been briefly trained, but have been so overwhelmed that I have not really learned to utilize this technology to its fullest potential. Currently, I use the SMART board a few times a week and I have not even began using the student response system this school year. Part of the issue has been because my computer did not have updated software and my district has a new technology group that has not been able to fix my many issues. However, they are currently working on this and my ability to use these tools is slowly improving. Now that I can use this technology, I want to use it throughout the day and make it an important part of our classroom. To help me meet this goal, I will be attending a SMART board training this week. Through this training, I hope to obtain new skills and ideas on how to meet this goal. I also want to make sure I do not just use these technologies as instructional tools. I want this to be more of a learning tool. One way I intend to do this is have students rotate more into using the SMART board as a learning station while I work with small group instruction. Not only will this be a powerful tool to aid in student learning, but it also will be motivating for students so they will strive to be on task to use this tool well while I work with small groups, or they will not have the opportunity to use it at all. Thus, making this tool an example of how technology can be an important behavior modification and instructional tool (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010b).

            This course has shown me what a powerful instructional tool technology really can be in the classroom. Technology tools can be a fantastic resource in most instructional strategies and learning theories. Admittedly, I am a bit overwhelmed by all of the amazing things technology can be utilized in the classroom. To make it a little less overwhelming, I plan to take Dr. Pickering’s advice and take a couple of ideas each year and focus on those specific tools and instructional practices (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010a). One of the great things about technology is that it is always changing and ever year I will be able to learn more great resources and skills. Technology really is a tool that makes everyone be a life long learner. As a teacher, this idea makes me love and want to use technology even more in my classroom.


Resources

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011a). Program eleven: Instructional strategies, Part one [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b). Program four: Behaviorist learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011c). Program ten: Spotlight on technology: VoiceThread [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011d). Program thirteen: Technology: Instructional tool vs. learning tool [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Teaching and learning with technology (3rd ed.pp. 2–35). Boston: Pearson Education.


Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: 
           ASCD.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Social Learning Theory and Cooperative Learning


Social learning theories basically state the learners create their own understanding through social learning experiences with others and creating artifacts that demonstrate learning (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). One way to incorporate social learning experiences in a classroom is through cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is where students interact with each other in such a way that they obtain more knowledge working with each other than on their own (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Along with cooperative learning is collaboration. The difference between these two social learning strategies is that in cooperative learning, each students is responsible for group work and individual contribution to the group. In collaboration, students just work for the group (Orey, 2001). With either strategy, students fundamentally have an opportunity to work with each other in social learning communities.


I believe when students work in cooperative learning groups, they are more able to process and understand information. By working together, students are able to use each other’s talents and brainstorm and bounce ideas off of each other. It goes back to the old saying, “Two heads are better than one.” I completely believe cooperative learning exemplifies this. I group my students into pods and they often reflection, discuss, and work with each other throughout the day in their pods or in partners. With technology, students are now able to cooperate with individuals outside of their classroom. Students can talk to people all around the world with free digital tools such as Skype. I also love the idea of keypals and giving students the opportunity to work with and get to know others around the world. What a powerful way for students to begin to see how we are truly a world community. Even within the classroom, students can use digital tools, such as Google Docs, to create projects together, but not necessarily on the same computer or at the same time. There are dozens of ways students can be part of an online cooperative environment. These are just some ways in which cooperative learning can incorporate social learning into the classroom.

-Jill Morris

References-

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Voice Thread Link

For this week's assignment, we had to create a Voice Thread based on a problem. I collaboratively worked with all of my students (each was a member of a team). The teams included: research team, writing team, drawing team, picture team, voice recording team, technology team, and task monitors. The biggest problem on my students' minds is how they are going to afford outdoor school in the spring. This is the first year our school has gone to camp, so this is new for all of us. As a class, we generated ideas for camp. Then students picked their teams based on interest. I did limit the number of students per team. Then throughout the last two days we were able to put together this presentation which I will show at the parent camp night meeting in a few weeks. I was impressed how well most of the groups worked and what we put together in just a few hours. There were some technical issues, but overall, the project went well. I would also like to use this link as a possible way for parents and students to comment and generate more fundraising ideas. Here is our link-

http://voicethread.com/share/2293384/

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Generating and Testing Hypotheses and Constructionist Learning Theory

Generating and testing hypotheses is the perfect strategy to relate with the constructivist/ constructionist approaches. Six ways this instructional strategy can be used in the classroom include: systems analysis, problem solving, historical investigations, invention, experimental inquiry, and decision making (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2007). These strategies truly correlate to these approaches. In the constructivist approach, the learner actively constructs their own meaning to their learning through their experiences (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). The constructionist learning theory approach takes this one step further and suggests students learn best when they create an artifact that they share with others (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). These learning theories are definitely evident in these learning theories and can be easily integrated in project-based learning.

One example of how these six tasks can be integrated in project-based learning and constructionist learning theory is in a science fair project. Last year, my 5th graders took part of a science fair. Students were instructed to pick a project that addressed the science inquire model. Therefore, students had to create an investigation based on a question they were interested in. They had to have one manipulated variable, one responding variable and controlled variables. Before beginning their investigation, students wrote a hypothesis and predicted what they thought would happen in their experiment. Students then kept data and scientific notes on their project for three weeks. Some investigation questions students explored included: “What type of bubble gum blows the biggest bubbles?”, “How are plants growth affected by various liquids?”, “What laundry detergent gets stains out the best?”, etc. Throughout their investigation, I worked with students individually and guided them throughout the process. Students also used Excel and Word tables to organize their data. Many students also learned how to input data into an Excel document and create amazing graphs to display the change in their responding variable in their project. In the end, students also had to analyze their results by writing a scientific conclusion and creating a science display for our science fair. Parents and other students in the school were invited to come to the science fair where students discussed their investigation and findings. This was a very intense and time consuming project, yet a highly effective way we used all of these strategies in our classroom. This was the first year we did a science fair; however, we found that this one project really gave our students a solid foundation on science-inquiry.  In the end, all of the classes that participated in this science fair found the class average of passing our state science test went up over an average of 25% more students passing the test. As a school, our science scores went up from 52% to 78% of students who passed this state test. There is definitely room for improvement, especially since this was the first year we did a science fair. However, we all believe the number one reason for this increase of achievement was because of the science inquiry-based science fair. Students were invested in a problem they chose and really learned the science inquiry model first hand. In the end, they also created an artifact and had to share their findings with others in a science fair setting. Click here to link to my classroom website that has last year’s science fair project.

This is just one example of how generating and testing hypotheses can fit into the constructionist learning theory. I am curious to find creative ways to use these strategies in other subject areas. Does anyone have some clever ideas? I would love to hear them!

References-
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Instructional Strategies Connection to the Cognitive Learning Theory

One essential question all educators must have a grasp on is, “How do students learn?” To answer this question, it is important to understand what the Cognitive Learning Theory is. Click here to go to a webquest discussing the Cognitive Learning Theory. It is also essential for educators to understand the four main components of the Cognitive Learning Theory as discussed by Dr. Michael Orey. (Laureate, 2011) These components include:
                *Short –term memory (working memory)
                *Elaboration (making connections)
                *Effective use of images (visual images used to help make connections)
                *Episodic experiences (experiences that tie the learning together)
When working with a variety of instructional strategies, it is important to keep in mind these different components of how people learn. Some important strategies that take these concepts into account are cues, questions, and advanced organizers. All three of these strategies specifically try to explicitly provide connections through experiences and images to help students transfer information from their short-term memory to long-term memory (Laureate, 2011). One way to do this is through concept maps. Concept maps are a way to organize information in a very visual way (Novak & Canas, 2008). Programs such as Inspiration and SpiderScribe are excellent ways to create a visual connection to promote student learning. Advance organizers that can also been made through these programs, can help students focus on their learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).
Another instructional strategy that helps promote the cognitive learning process is summarizing and note taking. In these skills, students have to synthesize information in their own words (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). When synthesizing information, students have to use HOTS and develop an understanding on the information they are learning. When note taking and summaries are combined with visuals and specific summary frames, students are even more likely to develop connections. For example, while going on a Virtual Field Trip online, it is important for students to take notes on their experiences and learning. By using concept mapping software, the class can take notes and make connections about the field trip. The teacher can then print up the class concept map for the students to use as a guide to summarize what they learned from their VFT experience. The class can add pictures and other details to this concept map to help make even more of those essential connections that promote learning. In using a program like Inspiration, students can even convert the map to an outline for the students who are more linear learners and need their information more organized.
All of these instructional strategies, as well as many more, exemplify the cognitive learning theory process and help promote student learning. By using these strategies, students are more able to make the essential connections that help them truly understand and grasp concepts presented to them.
-Jill Morris
Resources-
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
Novak, J. D., & CaƱas, A. J. (2008). The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct and use them, Technical Report IHMC CmapTools
2006-01 Rev 01-2008. Retrieved from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition Web site: http://cmap.ihmc.us/Publications/ResearchPapers/TheoryUnderlyingConceptMaps.pdf

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Behaviorism in the Classroom


Behaviorism in the Classroom


As an educator, I have been learning about various learning theories since starting my education program in the mid-nineties. Interestingly, I find that as I gain more experiences in the education realm, my own personal theories morph. At this time in education, it is unpopular to think that behaviorism is a viable learning theory and part of the classroom. However, the resources I read this week definitely paint a different picture of behaviorism in the classroom. Behaviorism is found in most classrooms, especially in reinforcing effort and homework.

One of the common ways to find behaviorism in a classroom setting is in behavior management. All teachers find methods that encourage and promote learning in the classroom. One area that is important to promote in the classroom is reinforcing effort. According to Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, effort is the most important factor in achievement (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). Since this is so important, many teachers put a lot of time and effort into reinforcing students’ effort. Some ways teachers reinforce effort may include: having positive effort bulletin board, tracking data on a spreadsheet to show success with effort, verbally encouraging students to continue effort, giving certificates and a variety of awards for hard work, etc. Each of these methods try to reinforce the behavior of working hard by motivating the student through external measures. This reward conditions the student to continually put forth effort into his/her work. Therefore, the learning theory of behaviorism is an essential component to reinforcing effort.

Another area in education where the evidence of behaviorism can be found in the classroom is with homework and practice. As a 6th grade teacher, I feel it is my responsibility to teach the students accountability. One area students are accountable for is their homework. If a student does not finish their homework, that student misses a recess and goes to study hall. This could be viewed at both a negative reinforcement and a punishment, which are both important components to behaviorism (Orey, 2001).  Study hall is a negative reinforcement, because a recess is being taken away from the student. It is also a punishment because the student has to go to study hall instead of recess. In addition to this, in my school we celebrate students who have their work down and behave appropriate throughout the week. Student that have all of their work completed go to an extra 30 minute recess on Friday afternoons. Those students who have not completed their homework or practice work end up going to a special study hall where they can finish their missing work.  As for technology, I often have my students work on the Compass Odyssey Learning program as homework. This is a tutorial program that gives students practices on specific skills at their learning level.  Students are reward by the program with games and visual rewards as they complete assignments. All of these rewards and consequences are just a few ways behaviorism influences homework and practice in the classroom.

Does behaviorism have an important role in the classroom? I think it does. It is definitely not the only learning theory that has valid ideas on student learning. However, there is no doubt in my mind that most students respond to rewards and consequences. I also believe that many of students’ behaviors are learned and can be “fixed,” especially in elementary school. Whether it is for a tangible reward or just a great job and smile from their teacher, students are very much affected by these behavior reinforcers. Therefore, behaviorism can be found in most classrooms today.

-Jill Morris

Resources

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reflection

Learning about how to integrate technology more into the classroom has been very enlightening. In this course, I have learned more about using Wikis, blogs and podcasts in my classroom. I am very excited to implement these Web 2.0 tools into my classroom this upcoming year. I know my students will be thrilled to do more project based learning while integrating technology into the curriculum.
Through this technology course I have deepened my understanding of 21st century learning. I have learned how the seven Cs (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding, communication, computing, and career & learning self-reliance) are essential skills our students must do successfully to be competitive in the workforce (Trilling, 2005). Of course the core curriculum of reading, writing and mathematics are essential, but we must go much further than these basic skills.  When doing this, it is important to move away from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered classroom. As instructors, we need to be facilitators more than being traditional teachers. We do not have to know all of the answers, but we must collaborate with our students and teach them how to find answers. We truly need to be in a classroom where everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student.
I am really looking forward to expanding my knowledge and transforming my classroom to more student-centered room where students are truly learning essential 21st century skills. One goal I have is to be part of the district technology committee where I can be part of systematic policies and changes. I would like to work on allowing student equipment in schools as a way to get technology to our students. Another goal I have is to integrate technology more in project-based learning lessons in my classroom. I want to start to use Wikis as a collaborative tool. I also intend to have a classroom blog and use podcasts. Referring back to the checklist of technology usage in our classroom from the beginning of the course, I hope to have many more activities in the often category. I want to expand my usage of technology and give the students more chances to explore and learn. I intend to continually improve myself and learn more ways to integrate technology into the classroom. I am confident I am on the path to really help my students be 21st century learners. I am excited for these changes and I know my students are going to really enjoy them as well.
References
Trilling, B. (2005). Towards learning societies and the global challenges for learning withICT.TechForum. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/events/techforum/ny05/program

Monday, July 25, 2011

Technology Podcast

Today I interviewed some students about how they use technology at home and at school. I initially recorded their responses using Garage Band and then I uploaded the file on PodOmatic. This was my first attempt interviewing different individuals and rearranging answers into a podcast. The last few words in the podcast mysteriously disappeared on PodOmatic. At the end it should say, "in the classroom." Here is the link-

http://podcast48223.podomatic.com/entry/2011-07-25T13_31_30-07_00

After working with podcasts, I can see the potential of students using this tool in many areas in the classroom. I look forward to exploring this more with my students this upcoming school year.

~Jill Morris

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

21st Century Skills


One of the most common catch phrases in education recently is 21st Century Skills. What does this phrase really mean? This week I explored the Partnership of 21st Century Skills website.

The first thing that caught my eye on this website was the graphic of two arches on top of each other and rings connecting the bottom of the arches. I have seen this image before, but always felt that I did not quite understand the importance of each part of the arches and rings on the bottom. After exploring the site more, I found that the arches represent student outcomes and the rings (or what they call pools) represent support systems where every part is working together and connected. This is the framework for 21st century learning. Being a visual learner, I thought this graphic would help me understand the complex components to 21st century learning. Honestly, I fount this graphic too complicated and confusing. Without further research, 21st century skills are not explained by this graphic. In my research, I found that the 3 Rs and 4 Cs represent 21st century skills. I knew the three Rs are the basics in school, like reading, writing and math. However, I never heard of the 4 Cs before. I learned from this site that the four Cs are: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. For me, these words really helped express the core of what 21st century skills are to me much more then the arches and pools.

Even though these four Cs seem fairly simple, I found the website a bit overwhelming. As an elementary school teacher who is in charge of all of core content for my students learning, the vast list of skills students need to be prepared for the workplace is daunting. The main thought that ran through my mind when searching this site was, “How in the world am I going to fit all of this in?” The other part I personally felt disheartened about was Washington State (the state I work in), is not part of the leadership states creating new standards, assessments and professional development programs to commit to 21st century learning for all students. I then thought, “How long before my state gets on board? Or will we also be left behind?”

Having said this, I must say that I am impressed that headway is being made to help make sure all students have essential 21st century skills to be competitive and successful in the workplace. I also really like the collaborative development of these ideas from many corporations. I look forward to see how these ideas are embraced by all states and how this will actually affect the classroom. Project Based Learning and more access to technology will be essential to implement in schools to embody the 4 Cs effectively. Now the big question for me is, how do we do this effectively with our current resources? I think I need to do much more research to answer this question!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blogging in the Classroom

I have never used blogging in the classroom. However, I see the potential of blogging as a very powerful learning tool for students. Next school year I intend to develop a classroom blog. In this blog I want to accomplish a few different goals.

1- The first goal is to have a collaborative environment where students can post thoughts and ideas based on learning targets in the classroom and questions based on classwork. I love the idea of positing a question and having all of the students answer the question on the blog. Students then can be responsible to comment on each others' work and learn appropriate communication skills when blogging. This will not only allow students to learn from each other and promote higher order thinking skills, but it over time also will give students a chance to see what makes great responses.

2- The second goal is to give students a place to publish and showcase their writing and ideas. What a great way to receive feedback from others! This also will hopefully make students look closely at their writing to see if it truly is a quality piece of writing. As an upper elementary school teacher, I constantly am amazed how often students do not edit their work for even basic writing conventions before turning in their writing. Hopefully by publishing their work for the world to see, students will take more time and effort to make sure they are publishing quality work.

3- I love the idea of keeping a blog for past classes as well. Next year I will teach 6th grade in elementary school. I would love to have these students give advice to future students on how to be successful in middle school, much like what was seen in one of our videos this week. I think this is a fantastic way to build up the community in a classroom. It will give the shy students a chance to have more of a voice and help everyone get to know each other better.

4- Finally, I love the idea of having a homework help or a questions section of the blog where students can go on and ask questions. If students get in the habit of monitoring the blog, they can help each other. I can also monitor the blog and answer questions and make comments as necessary.

For all of these reasons (and I am sure so many more), I think blogging can be a very powerful tool in the classroom. Working with 10-12 year olds, I have the opportunity to really help students learn how to use this technology safely and appropriately. Truly, now that I started using blogs, it is my responsibility to share this with my students as well.

-Jill

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Technology in the Classroom

In a society where teenagers rather text the friend sitting next to them than actually talk to this friend, technology has obviously taken over. As an educator, I often wonder if so much technology is really good for the social and emotional development of our children. In the education realm, many have fled from technology and it's impact on our students. What do I think?

I think that if technology is so much part of our society and our students' lives, we have to embrace it and teach students how to use it responsibly, properly, and effectively. There are so many amazing resources available with technology that can assist learning and motivate students to want to learn. If students use computers, video games, and iPods at home already, why not integrate this into the classroom? Why not have students become detectives and search for new and free (or very inexpensive) Web 2.0 sites or APPs that can be applied in the classroom? They will love this challenge and will likely find many amazing resources that can be used to enhance their learning.

I agree that sometimes children in our society use way too much technology. I think the classroom is a perfect place to teach a healthy balance of when and when not to use technology. Unfortunately, technology is not available or very limited in many classrooms and schools. This is not equitable. All students need to have technology access and all teachers must have the professional development to learn how to integrate technology in the classroom. Will this cost money? Absolutely! However, look at the alternative. If we do not prepare our children by using technology in our classrooms, our students will continue to fall behind and not receive the 21st century skills that are necessary for their success in the future. It is our moral responsibility to make sure technology is available in all classrooms!!!!

-Jill