Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week of 10/25 Response

This week's chapter was seven, of Ashburn/Floden. This chapter deals with teachers and how effective they are at knowing and utilizing technology. Teachers need to know how to find and develop technology that can be an influential part of their curriculum. They also need to have a variety of technology sources to have meaningful learning to fully engage the students. Teachers should not be expected to be experts in technology. They do need to know that technology is available and the ways to find and use it effectively.
This chapter focused on what teachers need to do to be tech-savvy and it also focused on the problems that can happen due to the use of technology.
Technology is unreliable, therefore some teachers may be skeptical about fully implementing technology into their curriculum. They need to understand that they should have a 'back-up' plan in case something goes wrong with the technology. Time (to learn and evaluate technology), access (for all student users) and support (of parents, fellow teachers and administrators) are all factors that will affect how well technology is implemented in classrooms.
I found an article that deals with teachers using technology in the classroom (Shaw, 2004). I found this article interesting because in our district, we've tried to convince the administration to give each classroom teacher an LCD projector. We have SmartBoards (4 for the building to share) but they are big, cumbersome, and not very user-friendly. If each classroom had an LCD projector then the information from the computer (worksheets and/or internet sites) could be projected onto the screen and all students would benefit from the information shown.
The key to the LCD being successful is the 'one-click' concept. If all pieces of technology - the projector, VCR, DVD player- were permanently installed in each classroom, the 'one-click' method would allow for quicker access to the technology and the teacher would be prepared to use any item he/she wants. The advantages for teacher instruction and student learning would increase due to the availability of technology.
I may take this article as an argument for our teachers as to why this would be a great piece of technology to obtain for the teachers in our district.

Ashburn, E. & Floden, R. (Eds.) (2006). Meaningful Learning Using Technology: What Educators Need to Know and Do. Teachers College Press, NY.

Shaw, Trevor. (2004). "One -Click Classrooms" Make it Easy for Teachers to Use Technology. MultiMedia & Internet @ Schools, 11, 32-34.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week of 10/18 Response

This week's readings dealt with chapters five and six of Ashburn/Floden. Chapter five was a little more relevant to me, as I teach one class of social studies every other year. My teammates and I were forced to teach this as we lost a teacher to retirement a few years ago and the district didn't feel it was important enough to replace him. Our two teams 'share' a social studies teacher. Every year one team must teach the social studies book and the other team gets the social studies teacher.
Our book is ancient history and it is not a very user-friendly book. We were never trained on the book or the fact that it is available online. I asked the social studies curriculum coordinator last year to get our teams some training or information and to this day we haven't had any training. We can't even access the online textbook so we are really at a disadvantage.
This chapter focused more on 'history' but I still think it is meaningful to anyone who teaches history or social studies. On page 89, I like the sentence, 'Student learning has not always been filled with meaning.' (Ashburn/Floden) I think that statement holds true for our students who are exposed to our lack of knowledge with our social studies textbook. The students are required to take this class and we are required to teach it, but the assessment available and the resources available are poor in the fact of 'meaningful' learning.
We teach the 'facts', they read the 'facts', but I'm sure they aren't taking anything 'permanent' with them in regard to understanding why cultures lived where they lived or worshipped the gods we've discussed.
The basic premise of this chapter is that teachers need to understand what kids bring to the class as far as prior knowledge, and either build upon that within the curriculum or allow them to help the others in the room understand the concepts in the social studies curriculum.
Chapter six continues the discussion with social studies and how teachers and students need to use the MLT in the classroom in order to be in the 21st century. In the conclusion I thought that the sentence that discussed that using technology will be implemented 'piecemeal and painfully slow' (page 140) describes my district. They want to say they are a technological district, but they are unwilling to support the teachers in training to provide the best uses of technology in the classroom.
Digital podcasting was introduced in this unit as well. I found an article 'Blogging is so last Year - Now Podcasting Is Hot." Podcasts are audio files that can be downloaded and played through an iPod or computer. These are considered 'feeds' so users can subscribe to podcasts and have them automatically downloaded to their computer.
This sounds like a great way for talks or lectures to be saved and used at a later time. The podcasts seem to be a great way for people who may have missed a lecture or class. I think this type of technology would be great in the higher education classes. I couldn't see that I would have the opportunity in my school situation to be able to use podcasts. If I were to get a high school librarian position I could see the possibility of using them, but not as a middle school teacher or librarian.

Ashburn, E. & Floden, R. (Eds.) (2006). Meaningful Learning Using Technology: What Educators Need to Know and Do. Teachers College Press, NY.

Balas, Jane L. (2005). Blogging is So Last Year -- Now Podcasting is Hot. Computers in Libraries, 25, 29-31.

Week of 10/11 Response

Chapter 3 of Ashburn/Floden deals with science instruction and how to incorporate the WISE (Web-based Inquiry Science Environment) method into the curriculum. This type of inquiry gives students a thorough process of how to handle techniques and projects within the science curriculum.
This chapter dealt with research of a California middle school and how the teachers were able to utilize the WISE system and how much it impacted the student's learning. This research lasted two years, which seems good, from the standpoint the projects weren't done in a vacuum with no chance for feedback or improvement of the lessons/projects.
The findings from the studies over the two years support the fact that using MLT increases student knowledge and comprehension. By having the use of the mentor teacher, those teachers in the study could use that mentor teacher to their benefit. The mentor provided feedback as well as methods to get the learning across to the students. The conclusion of the WISE project proved that when projects are linked to classroom learning, students benefit from the increased exposure to technology. It gives them a hands-on experience where they can not only hear and read about a science concept, they can experience it firsthand.
Chapter four of Ashburn/Floden deals with bringing MLT to urban classrooms. Teachers who teach in urban areas have a greater problem with bringing the technology to the students. Many students are poor, don't have the home life to provide a home computer, or don't have support at home. Many students are also not as adept at using the Internet and that in itself causes problems.
The purpose of this chapter was to show that MLT can be successful for the students in urban areas. The approach that was used, I thought, was very good. The training was ongoing throughout the year so that teachers didn't feel they were left alone to flounder with the technology. There was help and guidance throughout the implementation and process of the projects.
What this study revealed is that students and teachers can benefit from MLT when the training/teaching is ongoing and relevant to the students. By incorporating MLT into a curriculum, if everyone is willing to take the time to allow the technology into the classroom, students will benefit as they progress through the grades.
Another subject for this week was digital storytelling. I found an article that gives an overview of digital storytelling. I had trouble pulling in the site from the syllabus to view the storytelling from YouTube.
The article I found discussed how digital storytelling can help preserve history for future generations by discussing the different storytelling tools.
One good source by Bernard Robin, is called 'educational uses of digital storytelling.' This has a link to a guide and powerpoint presentation on how to use digital storytelling in the classroom.
Digital storytelling is simply a way to preserve the past. It allows students the chance to visualize the past while they get the chance to recreate events. It puts them in that time or place and gives them a different perspective on the event.
One site I've heard of (I had an inservice day on it ) was Windows XP: Moviemaker 2.1. The inservice was a quick overview but it seemed to be a very simple way to have students create their own digital stories. The video, audio, and edit features seemed very easy to use and the examples we saw showed how successful the students were and that they had fun and learned from the assignment.

Ashburn, E. & Floden, R. (Eds.) (2006). Meaningful Learning Using Technology: What Educators Need to Know and Do. Teachers College Press, NY.

Joseph, Linda C. (2006). Digital Storytelling. Multimedia & Internet @ Schools, 13-16.