Now that I finally have a handle on what the blog is to be for this class, I think I can start writing some information pertaining to each of the week's worth of activities/reading. For the week of 9/13, we were to read chapter 1 of Johnston/Cooley and the Intro and Chapter 1 of Hendron as well as explore the google sites that were listed. Well, I did do that and found the youtube sites to be rather simplistic - they were easy to watch/understand, but I always feel better when I actually get to complete the tasks while I'm learning them, rather than having to move between the task and the lesson being taught. I also have on my syllabus sheet (where it states to create a google page, 'do I have to?' only because this class has so much to do with the technology that at times I feel really stressed about completing all of the activities. I guess I'm just not comfortable with the technology enough to feel like anything I do is worth looking at - I look at some of the others' items that they have posted and feel so inadequate in my ability to complete this class with any stretch of dignity.
Anyway, in Chapter 1 of Johnston/Cooley they really focused on engaged learning and gave some of the skills needed for a student of the 21st century. I feel that in my particular position I do try to incorporate most of those skills - technology literacy, communication via different media, draw conclusions, make generalizations, become self-directed learners and collaborate and cooperate with their peers. This chapter seemed like a review of what I have tried to do with my classes, but the only advantage to the book is that the technology is available and up-to-date. In my own situation I don't feel that my district is willing/able to come through to provide the students the best possible education for the 21st century. These students that I have now are very technologically savvy in how comfortable they feel using the technology (not necessarily that they know how to troubleshoot problems or get a job to its completed stage) but they have 'adapted' their methods to be successful for their own purposes.
I do like the term 'engaged learning' as it puts the burden of learning on the student - so many times we get comments that we aren't teaching certain things - but it can clearly be found in lesson plans that the information/concept was taught but the students themselves were not 'engaged' in the learning process. This process also puts it on the student that they need to be sure to be in school - absences help create problems that can only escalate when the students are not actively engaged.
One of the models of engaged learning that I do many times throughout the school year is the project-based learning. I teach reading, so many times I use the elements of the story/novel that we are reading in order to create projects for the students to complete. Sometimes a test is needed but I feel that the more a student is engaged in completing a project to show their understanding of a particular concept, the longer the concept will be retained.
In reference to the Hendron introduction and Chapter 1, the information when I first read it was a bit confusing - now that we are halfway through this class as I re-read the information it is making more sense to me. The introduction was simply a way for the author to introduce us to the new concepts being used classrooms around the US. The introduction discussed RSS - really simple syndication - which is simply a method for subscribing to new content published online. It is a great way to stay current with educational concepts and also allows the teacher a different way of teaching their lessons. The introduction discussed and reviewd blogs, podcasts, and wikis. I really liked the comment on page 13 of the introduction - "Lifelong learning" is frequently in the mission statements of schools and districts the country over. That is true for my district's mission statement - the only way that can happen is if the districts are willing to go the extra mile and provide the technology to the teachers/students to ensure that positive learning concepts are being taught.
Chapter 1 of Hendron deals more specifically with blogs . Again, at the beginning of this class as I read it was more confusing, but now it seems to be making more sense. The one sentence that overwhelmed me was on page 21 - 'Over a thousand new blogs are created each day.' That is an astounding number! I like how the author used the blogs in the school and also offered the tech support so that the unsure teachers (that would be me!) had support and didn't feel like they were left stranded with technology that they really didn't know how to use.
We didn't have to read the other book, Meaningful Learning Using Technology, by Ashburn, Floden, but I wanted to include some information from the introduction as I think it pertains to the information I spoke of above. In the introduction, they discussed the two essential questions about technology.
The first question asked 'What do teachers need to know, believe, and be able to do in order to teach meaningful learning using technology?' The second question dealt with the administration side - What do district leaders need to know, believe and do to support teaching for meaningful learning using technology?'
These two questions are essentially the way to ensure that technology has a place in the curriculum, whether one is a classroom teacher, librarian, counselor, administrator. By having the avenue of technology the districts and parents in those districts can rest at ease that the students are learning as much as they can and technology is a way for them to succeed in the 21st century
Ashburn, E. & Floden, R. (Eds.) (2006). Meaningful Learning Using Technology: What
Educators Need to Know and Do. Teachers College Press, New York.
Hendron, J. (2008). RSS for Educators: Blogs, newsfeeds, podcasts and wikis in the
Classroom. Eugene, OR.
Johnston, M, & Cooley, N. (2001). What We Know About: Supporting New Models of
Teaching and Learning Through Technology. Educational Research Service.