Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2015 Annual Report

Project Tomorrow’s Annual Report

This research article brought to mind much of what I read in The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher.  Both articles speak of similar predictions regarding the shifting role of the teacher.  As Project Tomorrow so eloquently stated, “the pervasiveness of visually based learning content in our workplaces, our homes, and our schools cannot be denied.”  In order to meet the educational needs of students, teachers need to use content that will speak to and stay with them.  Seeing as our children are growing up in such a technologically driven world, it only makes sense to use technology as the medium for student development and progression.

“School leaders’ reasons for endorsing more digital content and actively promoting its seamless inclusion in daily instruction mirrors what they see as the key drivers to increasing student achievement:  1. Increases student engagement in school and learning. 2. Extends learning beyond the school day.  3. Provides a way for instruction to be personalized for each student.  4. Increases the relevancy and quality of instructional materials.  5. Improves teachers’ skills with technology.”  The reasons behind wanting to increase digital content make complete sense to me, as a future educator.  The only problem I am seeing with this scenario, which is also mentioned in the article, is the teacher’s lack of knowledge on the available content and how to access it.  I, myself, am incredibly intimated by the plethora of available technology.  I often find myself overwhelmed when searching for ideas on the internet.  There is too much at which to look, too many options to sift through in order to find the hidden gem.

“School principals (84 percent) are almost unanimous in their belief that the effective use of technology within instruction is important for student success.”  With this in mind, it becomes ever more important to offer teachers professional development that includes tutorials on how to use the many tools to which they now have access.  Teachers need other teachers, administrators, and experts to show them the ropes in regards to technology.  Because we are teachers and we understand that we never stop learning, it is high time we all learned how to utilize all technology has to offer.

 

    

Are You My Teacher

We modeled this digital storybook after the well known children’s story Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman.  Since I have a five year old heading to Kindergarten this year, producing this project with my classmates was a labor of love for me.  I was thrilled with the outcome  and am incredibly proud of what my classmates and I accomplished.

Are You My Teacher – Digital Storybook

 

Flipped Classroom

Using technology is not my strong suit.  While I understand the necessity to utilize all technology has to offer, especially in the classroom, I, myself, feel incredibly lacking in the essential skills to navigate the many tools available.  Nothing scared me more than attempting to create my own flipped classroom lesson.  I knew others would be much more prepared for such a task than I.  Having said that, while I understand I have a long way to go in terms of ability to successfully utilize technology, I feel rather accomplished for having conquered this particular lesson.

Though my flipped classroom may not have all the bells a whistles, I believe that, as a lesson, it is short and succinct enough to reinforce the important information embedded in the lesson.  I wanted my students to watch this and walk away with the essential knowledge.  It may not be the fanciest of presentations, but I believe it gets the job done.  With more practice using multiple resources, I may, in the future, be able to include animation or other components to my presentation.  However, those elements were not something I was comfortable with at this time and, therefore, did not include.

I chose not to use Quizlet or Kahoot as my review method because, while I do agree technology has many benefits, I also believe there is something important about using multiple means of representations during a lesson.  Having my students watch and listen to a presentation while simultaneously finding and physically writing the correct answers in an interactive note page seemed the best way, for me, to know if a student had internalized the lesson.

This particular lesson may not have been all I had hoped I could create.  However, I am certain that, with more practice and more comprehension of available resources, I will only get better with time.  I also learned that flipped classrooms are possible for elementary aged students, which I had my doubts about before beginning this process.  I thought they only made sense for much older students.  The process of creating this lesson helped me to understand that anything is possible as long as one has the right attitude and, of course, the necessary technology.

Interactive Notes Page

Digital Literacy & Citizenship Curriculum

I have successfully completed my training with Common Sense Education.  I highly recommend this program.  As a parent and future educator, I understand that using technology is essential, but I have always worried about how to properly teach our children to tread with care when navigating the internet and creating digital footprints.  This program helps with just that and, I believe, should be incorporated into the curriculum at all levels of schooling.  The training on how to navigate the website and access the materials is quick and painless.  I encourage all educators to create their own accounts and get started.   certificate_of_training_041615.png

Narrowing the Divide

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I have heard the gambit of arguments both for and against the BYOT movement in schools.  What I have not heard embedded within these discussions is the truth concerning the increasing divide between those students with access to technology and those without.  The gap is and will only continue to widen as technology becomes a more integral part of everyday life.  Michael Mills was correct when he said that, “to narrow the gaps in our educational system, we have to give all students access to powerful tools.”  The only way this is possible in school districts that cannot afford to provide access is to allow students to bring what they do have and put it to use in the classroom.

I understand teachers fears of attempting to incorporate BYOT into their classrooms.  The truth is that not all students will come with the same devices and not all applications will be possible when planning lessons.  However, seeing as the options are limited, to chose to ignore one that is readily available because of the inconvenience it may cause in the planning process seems almost neglectful.  We have to provide all students with as many equitable learning opportunities as we can.  It may not be ideal, but BYOT is something that cannot be ignored.

Closing the gap is not going to be easy, but, as Michael Mills also pointed out, “access to the internet today is a basic right…it is access to empowerment.”  Using technology in the classroom has become an essential part of the educational process.  Part of our job has become guiding our students through a technological world and all the access it provides. If we are truly preparing our students for the real world, then we have to acknowledge that the world will include technology we have yet to imagine.

 

Education is Broken

TedxPhilly – Chris Lehmann – Education is Broken

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“Every idea is a new lens to look on to the world.”  If my calculus teacher had answered the question of “why do I have to learn this?” with that quotation from Ted Lehmann, I may have paid more attention.  Let’s face it, most of what we learned in high school is not information we have used in our adult lives.  That is not to say we should not have had to learn it, but it would have helped if teachers had explained the true lesson behind the struggle to grasp the material.  Thinking critically, problem solving, growing as individuals, and testing our abilities were the true lessons.

What Ted Lehmann is addressing in his talk is the fact that “education is broken.”  He feels that schools need to shift away from the current “production line” instruction in which students move from class to class with no correlation between subjects.  Lehmann suggests, instead, that schools incorporate an overall theme to instruction that includes asking students the significant questions to which not even teachers know the answers, seeking out the answers with the students in each subject, and, in the end, allowing students to make something meaningful from the knowledge they garner.  Therefore, the question teachers should be able to answer is not the typical, “why do I have to learn this?,” but rather, “how will this help me become a better version of myself?”

“When we allow kids to see themselves as authentic agents, when we dare them to ask questions, seek out answers, and build things that matter, high school doesn’t suck anymore.  And when we do that we encourage kids to change the world.”  The ultimate goal of educators is to provide students with the means to grow and develop into better versions of themselves.  Since, as Ted Lehmann suggests, the need for school has shifted away from being the only place students could go to receive the necessary information, and into the place where students learn to make sense of the world, the images, and the ideas that are constantly accessible, it only makes sense that schools shift to meet the changing demand.  Education may be broken at the moment, but there is no doubt that educators will do what is necessary to fix an institution that may no longer be working.