Blog Audit

 I truly enjoyed learning how to blog. It seems as though I wrote most about the assignments we were given in class. I do notice that I return to the idea of  depth of technology usage.  Often I comment on the issue of teachers merely using technology for very simple task in the classroom.  As time went on I began to branch away from the assignments and began to read and review information on tech ed. websites and journals and look for articles more related to digital citizenship and general tech news.  Becoming more comfortable with blog technology allowed me to venture “off script” a little more.  Most surprising is the amount of information we analyzed.  I also notice that my blogs became more personal as well.  I am now comfortable with blogging and value the time that I spent learning how to blog.

Hello Everyone!

I was just working on paper about digital citizenship. I came upon a very good resource for those of us who are in the process of writing for publications or plan to in the future.  It’s entitled, “ I found it on Google It Must Be Free:  Copyright Permission and the Internet.  ”  Due to copyright laws I can not post it, but you can find it on EbscoHost at the IUP Library site.

“I Found It on

Google – It Must Be Free!”

Copyright Permission and the Internet

Veteran’s Day and Technology

Hey,  I thought I might add a small lesson plan that uses graphing online tools to help children understand the importance of veteran’s day!  Click on the picture!

                                                                                                                                            

Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship can be defined in two words: responsible and respectful use of technology in all areas of life.  Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey identified nine areas of digital citizenship:

Student Learning and Academic Performance:

1.  Digital Literacy   2.  Digital Access  3.  Digital Communication

Student Environment and Student Behavior

4.   Digital Security  5.  Digital Etiquette   6.  Digital Rights and Responsibilities

Student Life Outside the School Environment

7.  Digital Law     8.  Digital Commerce    9.  Digital Health

As you can see the nine categories are divided into three large groups based on the student’s sphere of influence.  The three subcategories highlights one of  the most important aspects that teachers need to understand; technology use does not begin or end at our classrooms doors. It is imperative that all teachers become familiar with digital citizenship and begin to incorporate it from the very beginning of a child’s life.

Know Who Your Audience Is

One of my old classmates from school was telling me about her world of marketing.  She had such great stories about all the wonderful places she traveled, the people she met, and the great time she was having in life.  In exchange she got 15 minutes of my life as a mother of  a brand new 2-year-old and  new kindergartener, life back in Indiana, and some of the funniest times I had as an educator.  With great intrigue I asked her how she managed to keep all these different clients happy. She told me her secret was what she learned in marketing 101…..know the audience.  I sat there for a moment as she was speaking and began to think about how this was much like my experience in teaching.  I have to always be aware of my audience from the beginning of the planning to through analysis of summative assessment data.   In the article,Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A framework for Teacher Knowledge, by Punya Mishra and Matthen J. Koehler, I especially enjoyed reading about how the “redesign”  project that the graduate students completed “forced participants to think deeply about evaluating the needs of the audience and to configure their design to meet these needs. “

I believe that the most important part of the TPCK Design Model is highlighted in this particular example.  The purpose of the model is to assure that a one-size-fits-all program is not developed to try to teach children to create new knowledge using technology. Teachers had to recreate a website based on the child that was being taught. 

 Student-centered instruction is a very important aspect of teaching in any discipline.  I think that it is even more challenging when adding a third piece: the technology tool.

The article states that technological content knowledge is as easy as asking yourself how the subject matter can be changed by the application of technology. Mathematics is profoundly changed with something  just as simple as how information is gathered, graphed, or represented.  Many of the “abstract” mathematical concepts can come to life on screen.  The key would then be adding the pedagogy which consists of knowing how to teach the content through the use of technology effectively. 

There is one question that I have for the authors of this particular article. The statement was made that when combining all three aspects of tech. education, that teachers have to apply pedagogical strategies for the use of technologies.  Are all these strategies transferable?   Are there strategies in a particular discipline that work better than others?  I guess this would take time like any new aspect of teaching.

TPCK seems like a great way to begin the process of simply using technology to teach to teaching children how to develop and create new technology with its use.  As a novice tech teacher, I am sure I will find this helpful.

Something to Look Into

I know with all that is going on in politics today and the amount of work that I have to complete by the end of the semester, it is very difficult at times to “weed out” what may be worth watching.  Well, there have been stories running on some of the cable news networks (well CNN and MSNBC) about a court case that is being decided called  NET NEUTRALITY.  It may not get the attention of the Citizen’s United decision  (….decided that  big corporations have the right to give as much money as they want to our politicians without disclosing who gave the money), but it has an even more power effect.   I am by no way a lawyer, so I can not get into the “legalese” of it, but to make a long court case short:  communication companies want to become internet gatekeepers and sell rights to really really fast internet speed.  The problem of course is that some people who have internet sites may not be able to buy  really really fast internet speed, and therefore would by pure economics have a disadvantage on how fast and timely their information gets out.   This would create a “teired” system  dictating which companies, people, interest groups, activists, etc. can get their information out in a timely manner.  What if you don’t have cash at all?    Imagine how this will affect our every day lives, and the information that we have access to?  How will this effect the information that our children have access to?  What about non for profit groups?  This is worth reading up on.

Is it a Matter of Our Nature?

While reading the article, Teacher Technology Change:  How Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect, by Peggy Ertmer and Anee T. Ottenbreit-Leftwich,  I pondered a particular statement written that expressed the belief that continual changes in technology cause teachers to be perpetual novices .  I jotted down on the margins if  this explains why so many teachers are so reluctant to learn new technologies.  By our very nature (and perhaps training) we strive to teach for eventual mastery.  Our state test administrators celebrate mastery of concepts.  Curriculum developers create teaching/learning materials describing skills as one that children are just beginning to understand,  are developing, or should master at a particular age or grade level.  It is implied of course, that the beginning skills should sometime in the future be mastered.  This is of course the point, right?  Students must master certain skills at all levels in order to be considered educated.  But, do we also use the same standard for teachers?  With terms like “Master Teacher,” isn’t there an implication that teachers can master the art of teaching?  I am well aware of the mantra of “lifelong learner” that we loosely throw around our schools.  But the environment we teach in stresses mastery.  The 100% test.  A “star” at the top of the paper. 

With this in mind, perhaps this is why teachers will overwhelming describe technology as intimidating. Technology is quite fluid and changes rapidly.  Once we learn a program,  (or “mastered” it) the exact same company puts out a new “version” and we are back at “beginning level” all over again.  If this circular pattern is repeated enough, as is so often is, teachers may become discouraged.  The idea of being an eternal “novice”  can be demoralizing.  Exactly what to do about this is the larger question.  The article goes on to explain about self-efficacy and “feeling good” about yourself and your continual effort.  Critically, I would have to disagree that this will solve the problem of  the two realities that exist within the nature of teaching….our own (I must master it to teach it) and one of technology (a new science that will evolve with human innovation).   

Perhaps if the teachers were immersed into the environment of technology, the idea of complete mastery would begin to dispensate.  Teachers may become more comfortable with the idea that the world that our children live in will change must faster than ours ever did.   The very nature of the “100%- you get a star-A+”  teacher will finally have to catch up to the “what’s the latest tech toy” of the generation we teach.

Technology in the Classroom

I recently read the current edition of  Tech & Learning.  I was amazed at the number of technology devices that are now available for classrooms.  Of particular interest was desktop-based virtualization that allows for schools to mange end-user devices fom one desktop.  With four schools using this technology in a variety of ways, it seems as though it is quite flexible.  Every school noted that desktop-based viritualization saved money, space, and human resources.  This is something that I believe my daughter’s school could easily embrace.

REALITY GAPS BYTE….

National Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke on March 3, 2010 regarding the transformation of schools.  Surprisingly ( or not so much so if you have followed him) he does not talk of  a new national reform model or new federal regulations. Instead, he talks of the very real reality that our   educational system is sluggish at best in meeting the needs of the demands of a technology-driven society. 

Arne outlines the gaps that exist between caucasian students and students who are categorized as minorities in test scores and graduation rates at both the high school and college levels.  It has been the constant narrative from the very begnning of  No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  Refreshingly, however Secretary Duncan talks about an even larger gap that has a direct impact on classroom instruction, and a much larger impact on student engagement: technology use in the classroom.  

It is encouraging to hear that the senior most education administrators is addressing some of the most challenging problems that are facing our public schools. What’s even more encouraging, however, is the emphasis that is given by administrators at the state and local levels as is the case at Glen Clove School District and the Virginia Department of Education.

As Arne Duncan states, our federal government must be “loose” enough to allow local and state decision makers to implement technology,  as they would know (or  should  know) their population of students best.  

One example is Shari L. Camhi’s perspective of  district-wide technology implementation as an assistant superintendent.   Glen Cove School District, the 2009 Sylvia Charp Award winner, disseminated technology to schools based on a needs analysis.  With limited funds, each grade level received different technology based on their curriculum. Teachers were required to engage in professional development throughout their first three years of service in the district.  This is now a model school.

In Virginia, technology implementation was established by the state government. Through the employment of instructional technology  resource teachers, (that do not have shared teaching responsibilities) classroom teachers had the much-needed ongoing support to learn not only how to use the technology, but how to integrate it for use and production. 

It seems from all three levels of government, technology is being promoted  as a transformational tool.  Tests scores (not the only way to measure success by far) are increasing according to two of these articles. 

Six common themes are presented throughout these three articles:

1. Needs assessments

2. Differentiation

3.  Integration

4.  System-Wide Support (human and financial capital)

5.  Expectations/Outcome driven

6. Ongoing support and training

I mention the most important point first. In my experience in a school that would be considered technology advanced, I found that I had training on how to use the technology, but not how to integrate technology into my lessons in a meaningful way.  I learned from other teachers who had time to “play around” with different technology tools that were given.  Assessments of how the technology was being used and how to better integrate the technology wasn’t present.  It made it quite difficult to use these valuable resources regularly.  Expectations in this case were difficult to meet due to the lack of the support.

Looking at the three-prong approach of  transforming technology integration in classroom will be needed to close the realities of the educational gaps that persist in this country.

The Tale of Two Tech Teachers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.…remember the well-loved book by Dickenson?  The historical fiction text set in the times of Revolutionary France?   London and Paris.  Much alike, but yet very different?  So it goes with the classrooms highlighted in the two articles (except without all the drama, revolts, characters) in Enticing Teachers to Try Technology, by Lois Cox and HOT Blogging by Lisa Zawilinski.

Both articles explain the direct ways in which teachers explore the new (at least to the teachers) world of technology integration.  Stephanie, a literacy teacher decided to use blogs to teach children several new “literacies” through technology.  The art teacher used a digital drawing program.  Both seemed to be pleased with the results.  More importantly, however, both teachers reported that their children were genuinely engaged in the process.  It seems that the teachers were successful in their endeavors.  It was wonderful to read about how technology was actually integrated, used to create (the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy), not simply used as tool to gather information.  This is where the tale of Paris and London split.  My concern is specific to the environment in which the two teachers work.

Although the general school environment is not directly discussed in the HOT blog article, Zawilinski gives one detail that hints at the general support system that exist within the school. She explains that Stephanie met with a technology support specialist for one hour.  In comparison, the art teacher was part of a technology integration program that appeared to be well supported by the entire school.  Teachers had to prove that they were committed to the process,  identify how the technology was going to be used , and show how new learning would occur through the use of  the equipment.   Teachers also had to set goals for the technology they wanted.  In return the school gave teachers clear expectations as to what would be required and then gave the needed support to encourage success including technology support and training.   More importantly, a mentor was provided to observe the teachers and provide constructive feedback.   Success in this instance was not accidental, left to a whim or the work ethic of individual teachers, but was  intentional.  

Stephanie found success in her initial project, and should be commended for her dedication.  The future of her endeavors to fully engage children in new literacies are in question, simply because of the apparent lack of the support. Does she have the needed support to expand or development new ideas for technology use in literacy?  From my experience, this would be doubtful.  

Too often we are not provided with technology, or worse yet, provided with technology without training.  This ultimately leads to students using technology as a way to “get” information, not create it. 

Unlike Dickinson’s tale, I am sure that as teachers, we will not play the martyr for a symbolic gesture of a promise, but we can all play a part in a quiet intellectual revolution in requiring the necessary support for using technology effectively in the classroom.