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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.