Just had a chance to read this article and it provided me with some food for thought on
teaching in the 21st century. I currently teach at an international school that promotes a
Project Based Learning (PBL) framework. While I endorse this model, for many parents and
cultures, testing is still firmly entrenched in the educational framework as the bottom line
for success or failure, thereby creating the classical dilemma: scores or diverse skills?
This article promotes the idea that testing has its place, but that effective
techniques that promote a more holistic approach to student development and multiple
intelligences and outcomes can and do succeed in a world that still clings to test scores. As I progress do the road of education I hope that I remain committed to expanding the future of education. I applaud educators such as Rob Riordan.
In reading both the article Bloom’s and ICT tools and the blog post
Why Our Schools Need EdTech Professionals by Caleb Clark I was struck by the lack of an
effective bridge for many teachers toward an a holistic implementation of meaningful
technological integration into the classroom.
Simply put, for myself and many teachers, the lack of not only finding new technology to introduce along with a thorough understanding of where these new technology practices fit in in the Bloom’s taxonomy and higher order thinking skills creates a vacuum.
At my school we have two IT guys whose days are filled with classes, tech questions, and other tasks not related to tech integration in the classroom.
Mr. Clark hit the nail on the head with his post, many schools are lost at sea without an EdTech who can come in and bridge this gap.
I just got through with the reading ”Geeking Out” and drew some parallels with my early development and sports. Most of us in my generation did not have the luxury of professional teaching and instruction for our interests. Sure we went to basketball camps in my day, and received some specialized instructions from coaches, both good and bad, but for the most part it was go play pickup ball and if you had extra dedication you spent extra time shooting or ball handling.
With technology now, kids have access to a network of experts, aficionados and like minded individuals that help them develop their interests, hobbies and crafts.
I wonder how I would have been able to develop my skills and basketball game if I only had to go online to reach someone who could instruct me in shooting, new moves and drills. I have to say I am a bit jealous of the networks that teenagers have in regards to ”geeking out”.
For my course one final project, I have decided to help students develop a Personal Learning Network for our 6th grade Social Studies class. For many students, this is the first formal academic PLN that they have either implemented or used with any regular frequency.
Similar to the Coetail Course One agenda, I have chosen Google Reader as the application for this project. After preliminary instruction on basic blog validity, usefulness and other methods of determining worthwhile blogs I have the students begin to choose blogs on RSS feeds centered around our year long agenda of Social, Economic and Political factors of a civilization being studied. In 6th grade Social Studies we study Ancient Civilizations, it can be difficult to find timely blogs dealing with ancient material, so I have added a addendum assignment that allows students to accumulate information from the current geographic area of the ancient civilization we are studying.
Students are instructed to analyze blogs and select a varied and diverse number that represent different ideas and ideologies about the social, economic and political issues surrounding the geographic area under current study.
Students are required to read thoughtfully, respond for clarification or correspondence with multiple blog feeds and then compare, synthesize and evaluate the information and its impact on either social, economic or political issues. Students have latitude in choosing the main focus of their RSS feeds, since the idea is to have them develop interesting, relevant and life long learning networks.
As the unit winds down, students compile and then present their findings, with the idea being that meaningful and constructive dialogue will emerge based on similar and opposing opinions taken from varying posts.
It is hoped that after several units of practice that the students realize the value of cultivating a PLN as a viable alternative to mainstream media while developing their ability to decipher valuable and pertinent information and then having the ability to constructively and effectively debate these findings with their peers.
Here I am at the end of the Coetail journey. It seems like just yesterday that I was joining the cohort group with two colleagues from Korea International School Jeju.
I joined the Coetail cohort like most people to embrace the movement of technology integration into the classroom. For most of us we realize that this is a journey not a destination. I can say that the past 14 months have given me an enhanced vision of what a holistic classroom technology environment can entail.
My background is 14 years of classroom instruction in South Carolina, Florida, Washington, Alaska, China and now South Korea. My educational background is a B.A. in Business Administration from Queens University, an M.A.T. in secondary Social Studies from The Citadel and an MA in Sports and Exercise Leadership from Seattle Pacific University. I have been at Korea International School (KIS) for over 2 years and enjoy pretty much everything on Jeju-do Island.
Now lets start with the Final Project:
This video will walk you through the project. I will additionally have the project transcript below. If you would to hear me go through the project orally just click the link, if you would like to read through it, please feel free to do that. Here goes:
In 2013 “Timmy, give me your lunch money or I am going to beat you up” is now at the 3.0 level. Students today engage in so many different forms of bullying that I wonder how “I” made it through adolescence. Several articles mention the psychological, sociological and other logical reasonings behind bullying but the fact is obvious, like everything else, technology has made more transparent behavior that has always existed. The real problem is not in the transparency but the ease in which technology facilitates bullying and other degrading interpersonal behaviors in our society. To compound this, familiarity and ease have led to not only a dismissal of what was previous quite noticeable bullying, and coupled with the “attention” factor, a tidal wave of intended behavior seeking to bring attention back to the perpetrator.
What really scares me, however, is not the increase in bullying facilitated onto others, but that in some cultures I have recently become familiar with, the bullied is not a victim, but a person who is perceived to be lacking in social skills and/or life skills who by not fitting in is really the cause of the bullying, thus, a warranted victim. This truly upsets me because the whole notion of technology being a cause or reflection of current society’s increasing apathy towards our fellow citizens really is challenged by deeper underlying cultural tendencies.
Clearly, this problem feels like a tsunami. Maybe we can’t stop it but a better warning system can save some of us.
This week’s activity is an interesting one. I have generally thought that my blog or teacher website were only means to an end. Give the students the information in a straight forward fashion and be on our way. After reading the attached articles I realized that this format has significant shortcomings in both aesthetics as well as retention and interest levels. Thinking of these shortcomings gave me a flash of insight.
While I could just do it myself and hope for the best, the thought occurred to me, why not give the students ownership in their learning adventure? Have a contest to see which student can create the most visually informative class blog or website. While it might seem like a cop out, I think it opens up door for learning creatively along with developing ownership and student responsibility.
Present the students with the idea, dictate what the site must contain, have them read up on current literature, such as the suggested readings from this week and then let them go to work. In the beginning it might be uncomfortable, but the possibilities are intriguing. Student artwork, links, creativity and a promotion of individuality in a modest setting are all outcomes from this idea.
Of course this activity would be greatly enhanced by students involved in tech fields at school, whether it be yearbook, newspaper, school blogs or web design classes. Nonetheless, however they arrive at a successful ends, within certain parameters, seems to me to be a successful and viable endeavor.
As a social studies teacher, culture is a big part of my school year curriculum. For some students, culture is a nebulous, slippery, ever-changing slope. What was culture 20 years ago is much different than what comprises culture today. Music, fashion, art and technology change so quickly from one generation to the next, with only a few items standing the true test of time.
What changes less is a culture’s identity or better yet, idyllic identity. For the United States, for better or worse, our best practices identity is wrapped into our ideals of democracy domestically and our attempt to portray ourselves as protectors of the weak and as a “global” police. While this image has taken many hits in the past few generations, at one time our during the “greatest generation” our national and international identity was at its peak or supernova. Perhaps no photo espouses the peak of American idealism of democracy, bravery and world power as the photo from the top of Mt. Surabachi during the battle for Iwo Jima in WWII. Arguably, the most famous if not the most powerful picture in United States history.
I would use this picture is to have students discuss, describe and create what makes a selected culture great, and basically how culture represents the people who make it up or does it? Also, what are the highest ideals or “supernova” elements of their own culture? What is good, better, best of their “home” culture and the rest of the world. What will stand the test of time. I could have video images of cultural montages from US history to add a dynamic element to the discussions. Students could create a list of what will stay and what will go and also to discuss what is the lasting impact of today’s culture.
Everyone loves a good story or so the story goes.
A tale I tell students each year is the story from my 7th grade. Since I teach middle school this gives a bit of relevancy to the subject and age.
One day, several friends and I were shooting basketball during P.E. class. It was outside during a hot, Florida September day. The conditions were not ideal, the basket seemed 13 foot high, the backboard was crooked, the net was torn, the asphalt we were playing on seemed like it was left over from a construction site. We had excused our shortcomings to our circumstances as we created in our mind viable excuses for our lack of skill and ability to make shots that day. After what seemed like hours of futility our coach, Mr. Rick Hunsucker,c came over. We complained about the situation that day and he looked at us and shot out a laser beam of wisdom that I have never forgot, “A good athlete adjusts.” Even in my immaturity that day, I realized the significance of his comment and as the years have passed it has encompassed more than just sports, but every facet of my life. When I am down and feel like complaining or making an excuse for something that is amiss whether personally or professionally, I remember his words. Funny thing is that everyone who was there remembers it like it was yesterday as well. It was truly a moment that remains like a movie in my mind.
I tell this story when I try to send a message about significant moments in a student’s life and how they recall them. The assignment I then give them is to present in a digital format of their choice, a life moment that has impacted them at this point in their life. The students really seem to enjoy this assignment and perhaps better yet, love to share with their classmates.
This week’s readings made me ponder the subject of how I feel about using technology and my understanding of the applications and understandings that I want my students to have.
First of all, I consider myself a digital immigrant. I’m learning but still feel behind in all thats going on. Thats okay but it makes me wonder about things. For example, the reading talked about taking time out for creation instead of simply thinking of content. I’m on board with that, and my curriculum focuses on Project Based Learning as a model. Great for kids, I know and I enjoy the creativity the students display. I embrace the sage on stage. At this point, its a must. Students love it, I love it, its been here to stay.
My question is this: at what level must I understand the technology applications that the students are using. For example, imovie. When I first arrived at my present school, halfway through its first year, the students were fairly capable of producing high quality imovie presentations. They loved it, I loved it, but alas I did not know how to use it and still don’t. I will learn it eventually, but with a busy schedule getting started has been something I have continually put off. Not sure when I will start. This leads to a interesting scenario.
As a social studies teacher, I have a great grasp of history. What I don’t know I am not ashamed to admit and am comfortable with this understanding. Content knowledge for a teacher is mandatory for obvious reasons, but what about technology knowledge? I use Socrative, google docs, Open class, Powerschool, back channel frequently, classnote.s, Evernote on occasion and all sorts of interactive learning games and so on. Its not the nuts and bolts of classroom technique that are an issue per se. What about the creative side of production? I mean, I can easily assign any number of assignments with numerous avenues of technology tools. Do I need to be able to use proficiently all of these tools? Does it matter that I am not capable on imovie? Of course it would be nice, but does it have to be required of me? This goes back to the subject of time, its limited, how much do I have to spend continually learning new technology. I’m not really a big fan of blogging, facebook or other “fun” uses of technology, so how do I muster up the time and commitment to spend on learning new things? The answer is community. When I am working in the presence of others in the program (Brian Tupper, Ian Craig last year), its great, alone, not so much. Thankfully, Coetail does offer this, but for old fashioned me I am comfortable and understand the physical presence of company far more than the online community. Not to be a Luddite, but there it is.
Of course I will continue to add to my bag of tricks and knowledge base and cannot imagine going back to a non 1 to 1 program school, but this question of how much technology do I need is an idea that I ponder frequently. What is good enough?