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.

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