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Technology Rich Classrooms August 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — swumccrary @ 4:14 pm

Title of Article: Differentiated Instruction: Getting Personal with Technology
Author: Grace Rubenstein
Link: http://www.edutopia.org/stw-differentiated-instruction-technology-elementary
Summary: This article was especially interesting to me because it is about a school in my hometown and it is the school where one of my friends is employed. Forest Lake Elementary School is a technology magnet school that keeps students thoroughly engaged in learning through technological resources. Each classroom has an interactive white board, eight computers, and access to other technological tools. The teachers have learned how to use the resources to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of every student. The principal agrees that the teachers are phenomenal but maintains that this is because of their relationship with their students and not just their performance with technology. The teachers know their students well enough to know what activity and technology tool is best suited for a particular child’s academic success. Because of this, all of the students in a second grade class are able to work in different areas and with different materials independently. A fourth grade teacher at the school has a computer for every child in his class. He says he has never been able to reach all of his students in such a way as he can now that each child is engaged in meaningful learning on their own computer.  The students in this class are working on an interactive PowerPoint, using software to make cartoons, and engaging in other activities. They are all succeeding because they are enjoying the process of learning that has been catered to their interests. They are all able to work on one skill but at the level that is appropriately challenging for them at the time. Although these students may not be excelling on standardized testing, rubrics, tests, and assessments show that they are constantly growing and progressing. Differentiation, procedures, and personalization are key to making this school a successful place of learning for students. Although it took a lot of time, patience, and risk taking, Forest Lake Elementary school has overcome all of their obstacles and created an incredible technology rich environment that is engaging and challenging for all students.
I like that this article address “technophobic teachers”. I feel like that is one of the main reasons that teachers today are so against adding technology to daily instruction. They are scared of messing up, breaking the equipment, or failing in front of their students. By reading this article, we are able to see the benefits of taking those risks and how engaged the students are in a technology based school or classroom. I am hoping ot challenge myself to take more of these risks this year and take advantage of all the technology and resources available to me through my school and my school district.


Student Created Learning August 1, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — swumccrary @ 11:46 pm

Title of Article: Giving Up Control

Author: J Bevacqua

Link: http://figuringitouted.blogspot.com/2011/06/giving-up-control.html

Summary: This article is about giving the students an opportunity to create their own learning. The teacher did an experiment of having the students choose a topic that they want to learn more about. He gave them free reign from start to finish so they were able to completely choose what they wanted to learn and understand more about. The teacher never mentioned grades but did tell the students that they had to present information in a creative and interesting way. The results were unbelievable. The students chose topics that were interesting and engaging to the whole class including the teacher. They researched, used surveys, and incorporated different forms on technology to learn about their topic of choice. The teacher said that the students took great pride in their learning and retained more information than previous lessons. Using intrinsic motivation created lasting learning and meaningful experiences for all. The interesting concept that I learned from this was the lessons that the teacher himself learned. I have done this activity in my class before but because I do not give grades, I didn’t realize the impact that impending grades have on students. I thought this article was such an ingenious idea. I loved the questions that the students came up with and their various sorts of questions. I tried this sort of activity with my kindergarteners the 2nd to last week of school last year (when I had nothing else planned as I was finishing assessments). They LOVED it and had very unique and interesting questions: Do teddy bears float or sink? Where do lice come from? etc. It was very fun, memorable, and engagin. I plan on doing the same activity again this year!


21st Century Teaching

Filed under: Uncategorized — swumccrary @ 7:17 pm

I really enjoyed this video( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTIBDR4Dn2g&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_992282) about Teaching In The 21st Century.  It explained how students are now able to access limitless amounts information through the use of technology and digital age resources.  They can easily and quickly find any information they need on news, finances, transportation, world situations, new ideas and innovations. We as teachers can incorporate this into teaching new facts, contexts or skills. The problem we need to remember is to teach our students how they would find this information in digital age times. We rely so heavily on what technology can do for students, but we need to remember to teach students about copyrights, plagiarism and piracy. We need to still have students creating, evaluate, apply, and comprehend new knowledge and technology can help us doing this while keeping the learner engaged and making it meaningful. The video also explained how, even if technology is a huge part of learning, we need to incorporate it to remember to teach the basic aspects of respect and responsibility.

This video brought up so many awesome points about how we can incorporate so many digital resources and social networking sites into our schools to still keep homework challenging and engaging. We can teach students HOW to search and where to find things, how to use the internet, different sites to access, and how to make the most of the technology available to us in today’s time. We need to be conscious of how to manage these things at school relevant, challenging, and engaging instead of being used purely for entertainment or distraction.  As teachers, we need to see what’s out there, start small, collaborate with other teachers, take risks and enjoying the incorporation of technology for teaching in the 21st century.

I thought it was very interesting how this video was all about Teaching in the 21st century, yet it still reminded us to not get so carried away that we don’t make the most of it. We need to continuously be incorporating Bloom’s Taxonomy, life skills, and current issues into our teaching. It also taught us about the importance of keeping everything engaging and not just purely entertaining for our students. I think many great topics we tend to overlook or forget were brought up in this video and I really enjoyed reading/watching it.


21st Century Education in Public Schools July 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — swumccrary @ 11:46 pm

This video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjJg9NfTXos , about 21st Century Education in New Brunswick, Canada was absolutely fascinating. The video beings by describing all of the things that are already obsolete or becoming obsolete: VCR, white out, film developing, payphones, blackboards, and CDs. I feel that this could be extremely alarming to some teachers who are avoiding the digital age era. It discuses how we already have second graders who can type 60 WPM, who use social media instead of e-mail, and who access textbooks through electronic tablets. If this is happening now, what will be the “norm” for digital age classrooms 10 years from now? The video addresses how, as teachers, we need to be constantly adapting to a changing world. We need to keep the pace with the students and keep our information relevant to their ever-changing interests. We need to be accessible to them 24/7. This shift to a technological classroom will only happen through a teacher’s dedication, innovation, and involvement.
I think the most remarkable part of this entire article is that there are already these super technologically advanced classes in public schools in New Brunswick, Canada. This means that we have an equal opportunity to transform our classrooms into these types of environments as well in Greenville, SC.
I think it would be unbelievable to have a classroom and/or school that are this advanced with technology. I know that our biggest concerns are lack of funding and lack of proper materials but there are many ways of getting around this. Truly dedicated and motivated students could set up accounts on donorschoose.org, writing grants, or even having one classroom per school that could be shared on a rotating schedule. Whether any of these work, I still think it’s a fascinating idea and cannot wait to see where our future takes us with technology!


Response to NETS-T Standard 5

Filed under: Uncategorized — swumccrary @ 11:21 pm

NETS-T Standard 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources. Teachers:

a. participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
b. exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others.
c. evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning.
d. contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community.

Summary:  This standard is directed towards helping teachers improve their teaching practices and becoming digital age models of lifelong learning for their students. Teachers are encouraged to improve student learning through the use of local and global communities through technology. Teachers should promote cooperative learning, community building, and proper technology skills. They should evaluate and reflect on current technological practices and research on a regular basis to support student learning and success. They should continue to grow and enhance the teaching experience through their school and community.

Strengths: My strengths in this area are through computer skills with my kindergarten class. I have taught my students the proper computer center procedures and taught them to access pbskids.org to learn about local and global issues. I also take my students to the computer lab at least once a week to give them the experience of being on a computer.

Weaknesses: My weakness in this area is how to enhance this for my students who know very little about and have little experience with computers. As a teacher, I need to do more evaluate and reflecting of current research and professional practices so that I am up to date with emerging digital tools and resources that would be beneficial to my students.


Response to NETS-T Standard 4 July 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — swumccrary @ 9:32 pm

NETS-T Standard 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices. Teachers:

a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.
b. address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.
c. promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information.
d. develop and model cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with colleagues and students of other cultures using digital-age communication and collaboration tools.

Summary:  This standard guides teachers to use digital culture ethically to understand society issues in a global and local society in professional practices. Teachers should be advocates for safe and ethical approaches to technology. They should model the importance of copyright policies and how to appropriately document sources. Teachers need to incorporate learner-centered strategies and use appropriate resources to address the needs of all learners. They should promote responsibility and digital etiquette through social interactions. Teachers need to model cultural and global awareness by engaging in other cultures using communication and collaboration tools.

Strengths: My strengths in this area are my incorporation of VoiceThreads and computer access during center times. I have also incorporated this into my classroom through the use of United Streaming videos. These provide my students with the opportunity to see the world in a broader perspective.

Weaknesses: Many of these topics seem abstract to my kindergarten class. My weaknesses as a teacher in this area are my lack of engaging my students in engaging with students of other cultures through digital-age communication and collaboration tools. I hope to be able to do more of this with my class next year.


Mistakes are Opportunities Waiting to Happen

Filed under: Uncategorized — swumccrary @ 8:45 pm

Title of Article: Hey – I’m not messing up – I’m learning!
Author: Vicki A. Davis
Link: http: //coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2011/01/hey-im-not-messing-up-im-learning.html
Mistakes are OKAY because we learn so much when we make a mistake. By making mistakes, students learn problem-solving techniques to help them fix their mistake. It is so important that we teach students to never give up after a mistake has been made, but instead to reflect on where they went wrong and how they can overcome it. We are all imperfect people; therefore we make mistakes very frequently. We can take theses mistakes and learn so much from them by reflecting on what caused the mistake, what we could have done differently, and what we would possibly do the next time. Vicki A. Davis made a very important point in her article when she said, “we don’t tolerate mistakes in anyone else but feel like we should have all the excuses in the world.” I also LOVED and great appreciated when she said that teaching is the greatest nobility of our time. Because we have been given this honor, we must be consistent with our actions and our attitudes. We should be remembered by the way we treat our students: our faith in them, our respect for them, and our commitment to them each day.  I want my students to feel these things every day that they are in my classroom. One of my favorite points in this article was Vicki’s statement that “We can’t do everything but we can do something.” We can be the difference in these children’s lives. We can teach them the joys of making mistakes and learning life lessons through them! I hope that I can carry this attitude into my classroom starting on day one!