This week has been even more eye opening for me. I am getting more and more interested in reading and learning about technology and the impact on our lives and the lives of our students. I came to the school for some quiet time on the weekend to work on this course for an hour or two and 4 hours later, I noticed I had got caught up in the informative blogs of my colleagues as well as all the interesting information on my RSS Reader. I am lucky to have another coetailer at my school and we talk daily about what we are reading and learning from this course. I have started sharing articles and websites with other staff members who are also interested. I feel like I am engaging in learning with my colleagues and working on one of the goals for week 4, “model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and other is face-to-face and virtual environments”.
I have titled this blog “Listen to the Experts”, because I feel that we really need to be listening to the students. They are the experts. In his article Shaping Tech for the Classroom, Marc Prensky looks at the four-step process of technology adoption, “dabbling, doing old things in old ways, doing old things in new ways and doing new things in new ways”. He states that, “resisting today’s digital technology will be truly lethal to our children’s education. They live in an incredibly fast-moving world significantly different than the one we grew up in.” I agree with Prensky when he suggests how we can move forward, “First, consult the students. They are far ahead of their educators in terms of taking advantage of digital technology and using it to their advantage. We cannot, no matter how hard we try or how smart we are (or think we are), invent the future education of our children for them. The only way to move forward effectively is to combine what they know about technology with what we know and require about education.”
I have been in many discussions with my colleagues about integrating technology better and more efficiently, but this week I will make a point of talking to more students and listening to their ideas and suggestions. As our school implements a 1:1 ipad program next year, I for one will advocate that students be a big part of the process. As a “digital immigrant”, I can learn a lot from our “digital natives”.
As I reflect on the NETS website, I see to effectively integrate technology into our classrooms there are many things to take into consideration. My school is beginning a technology initiative by integrating ipads next year, and I hope they keep in mind many of the essential conditions to effectively leverage technology for learning mentioned on this website, a few of which include, a shared vision, equitable access, skilled personnel, implementation planning and consistent and adequate funding.
As we begin some professional development with our ipads, (all teachers were given an ipad this year to explore and get familiar with) our staff are all at varying stages of expertise ranging from very little to a great deal. We are counting on our administration to provide us with opportunities to learn more, but I feel as an educator I have to place a great deal of the responsibility of learning more about technology on myself (this course is certainly helping). As the website states, “As technology integration continues to increase in our society, it is paramount that teachers possess the skills and behaviors of digital age professionals. Moving forward, teachers must become comfortable being co-learners with their students and colleagues around the world.”
As educators acquire the technological skills needed I’m sure we will realize that most of our students are more comfortable with using technology than most of us are. We do not need to throw out all our good teaching practice (providing students with opportunities to think critically, be problem solvers, show international mindedness and reflect on their learning) as it goes hand in hand with using technology. According to the website, “Simply being able to use technology is no longer enough. Today’s students need to be able to use technology to analyze, learn, and explore. Digital age skills are vital for preparing students to work, live, and contribute to the social and civic fabric of their communities”.
The task of effectively implementing and keeping up with technology is daunting. It is nice to know that my school is moving forward and I intend to remain positive and take on the challenge. It is fun to be a life-long learner.
According to the article, Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project, “..messing around represents the beginning of a more intense, media-centric form of engagement. When messing around, young people begin to take an interest in and focus on the workings and content of the technology and media themselves, tinkering, exploring, and extending their understanding.” Although I am far from my years as a youth, I feel that I am in the messing around stage. I use technology personally and professionally, but already feel like I’m being stretched with this course. I have had an “intense week” of engagement. My interest level is piqued and the need to learn more and dig deeper into technology and its’ role in our classrooms and homes is evident.
Mashing? Cracking? I learned some new terms when reading about Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Map. I think introducing this map to our staff would be beneficial. When we plan our units and reflect on formative and summative assessments we refer to Bloom’s taxonomy to ensure students are given opportunities to use their higher order thinking skills. Incorporating the digital taxonomy map would be of benefit to teachers as they become more familiar with utilizing a range of technology in the classroom.
In answering the question, “How are my thoughts changing?”, I would say that after only spending one week reading a variety of articles, Jeff’s book and many blog entries I am excited about the realm of information I know I have yet to learn. As an educator and mother of four children, I need to be more aware of the role technology has on our youth. They are, in many cases, way ahead of me. Our youths’ skills in technology are improving all the time. I need to embrace the collaboration age and utilize the technology to its utmost.
Will Richardson’s article, World Without Walls made it clear to me just how quickly technology has come upon us. I have been an educator for over 20 years as an elementary classroom teacher and now as a literacy coach. I have taught my own students technology for years, but realize it now needs to happen at a much quicker pace. Years ago teaching proper keyboarding skills, some research on the web and creating power point presentations were the emphasis. I don’t believe there should be a small part of your day just to teach skills for technology. It should be embedded in your whole day. That doesn’t mean that for 100% of the day, students need to be on their ipads or laptops, but they not only need the technology skills to succeed in the collaboration age, they also need critical thinking skills that go along with them using the technology effectively.
Richardson’s article states, “It’s about working together to create our own curricula, texts, and classrooms built around deep inquiry into the defining questions of the group. It’s about solving problems together and sharing the knowledge we’ve gained with wide audiences.” Our school is an IBO World School. We teach our students in an inquiry way. According to Making the PYP Happen (January 2007), “In order to conduct purposeful inquiry and in order to be well prepared for lifelong learning, students need to master a whole range of skills beyond those normally referred to as basic. These skills are valuable, not only in the units of inquiry, but also for any teaching and learning that goes on within the classroom, and in life outside the school”. I think by teaching our students communication, research, social, self-management, and thinking skills we are helping to prepare them for our technological world. We are developing students who think more critically. Students need to be able to discern all the information they find on the web. As the article states, “Collaboration in these times requires our students to be able to seek out and connect with learning partners, in the process perhaps navigating cultures, time zones, and technologies. It requires that they have a vetting process for those they come into contact with: Who is this person? What are her passions? What are her credentials? What can I learn from her?”
Our school is making changes to ensure our students develop more skills to help them in our technological world. We want to prepare students for the future. It is my hope that we continue to make great strides in this area. I know for me after one week into this course, I am already seeing a great need to shift my thinking and fast track my learning to incorporate more technology into our programs. This course will be a challenge for me as the learning curve is very steep. I am trying to embrace the challenge and learn so that I will be an effective part of our change. I am determined not to keep in low gear, I’m climbing the learning curve and hope to keep going at a pace that is right for me.
I’m looking forward to this course. I have already learned many new things in the last 2 days. The book and articles are informative and I know the course will challenge me to get more active and up to date in our ever changing technological world.