Monday, December 6, 2010

Semester Wrap Up

Boy have I learned a lot this semester! Sometimes I still feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that is out there. I ponder how to keep learning and not lose what I have already learned. I wish I had a filing cabinet in my head. I pray for more time to explore the technology resources we have unearthed in this class and hope that I can share this information with others in a manner that gets them as excited as me! I do hope that someone else from my school will get on this bandwagon with me so I don't feel so alone. We talked about this in one of our classes and I do believe in collaboration.

I am looking forward to next semeseter and hope that I will continue to get better at blogging and learn more about the gadgets and widgets that can be added as well as up-loading videos and images. Boy, I still have so much to learn. Thank you all who are joining me on this journey.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crazy Technology

Ok, my apologies once again, I really need help with this blog stuff. I forgot to blog from our last class on the 18th and was so concentrated on looking at my vision and SWOt papers that forgot about this. I am sorry.

Ok so I enjoyed looking for grants that are out there and available for teachers. There are many different kinds of grants, from small, single classroom grants to large school system inclusive grants. The process for applyign cna be just as varied. I think that due to the economic situation, many people and school systems are looking for ways to get the most bang for their buck andgrants and partnerships may provide the answers.

Technology is also making it easier to find and apply for many of these grants, you don't have to read about it in a magazine, newsletter or some other from of paper publication. Most of them you can even submit the application online as well. These skills are ones we are developing and we need to make sure we are also teaching these same skills to our students, give them a leg up on the future.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Internet Safety

While working on the PowerPoint presentation for class, I read lots of information about Internet safety. I did not grow up with the Internet, so I myself have to think about many of the issues that face our young children today when getting on the Internet. There are quite a few good websites out there that address safety. Some provide videos, lessons and activities that all promote Internet safety. I do think this is a topic that needs to be addressed frequently, so that it remains fresh in children's minds.

As a teacher, I need to plan in advance (which we do most of the time anyway) but if the Internet is going to be used, teachers should visit site and create a list of acceptable sites that students can navigate to. A routine I would establish in my class is students can only go to listed sites from the teacher. If that site has a link to other sites, you must ask permission from the teacher before navigating away from the original page. by creating a list in advance, and possibly setting up the links on your class blog page, will reduce possible errors from using search engines or typographical errors. It will also hopefully free you up to monitor students easier as they are not having to type.

Someone in the class posted somewhere that teachers are being asked to teach in ways they themselves did not learn. We as teachers are also students, and as long as we remember that, it will give us some flexibility to ask questions of others  and seek help when we need it. I hope I never quit learning.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

National, State and Local Tech Plans

My apologies to all for not posting this when due. I thought we were posting on blackboard and I did that thinking that was all I needed. Sorry.

Technology is here to stay and we now have to figure out how to incorporate it into our teaching and learning practices. Nationally the plan is somewhat broad but addresses most of the needs. It is supposed to enrich curriculum not supplement and I do like the part where it should be accessible in and out of the classroom. It also wants to make sure ALL have access both in and out of the classroom. The state plan is similar. we also see that teachers are wanting more training on how to use technology in teaching, not just in classroom management. The district plan is also very similar and wants technology used in the classrooms. I think this is where our tech standards that are addressed on report cards comes from. So I was a little surprised to find out that my school's SIP does not mention technology and as far as I know, we do not have a separate tech plan.

I am in awe of technology, but also at times overwhelmed at the vastness of it. There is so much out there and at times I can't remember where I saw something or read something and have to search again....Sometimes I find it sometimes not. Thank goodness for search engines. I do hope that the "powers that be" at each level are talking to the other levels to try to help with the shift into the digital world.

I am forever a student.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

P as TL continued

The 12 descriptors of constructivist teachers, describes the teacher and not the content or process of teaching. When a teacher finds a resource that will help promote learning, I hope that is what will happen. I think technology can help the constructivist teacher, even sometimes the use of drill and practice. The 1st descriptor says the teacher encourages and accepts student initiative and autonomy. For some students, that choice will be for drill and practice until they feel confident enough to move beyond that, and I hope the teacher will be there to support and encourage that exploration or more drill and practice if that is what the student fells he needs. Technology can go very well with descriptor 2 as there is probably more current data online than can be found anywhere else, but students do need to be taught how to look for it. Descriptor 3 is not seen often enough in the classrooms, with or without technology. NCLB probably hinders this as more and more schools are teaching to the high stakes test, there is less time for "analyze, predict and create". These only happen in the last month of school when they have already taken "the TEST". Descriptors 4-9 deal with questioning and dialog with and among students. Technology can be woven in here with web quests, interactions between schools (e pals, collaborative projects, etc), and project based learning. Descriptor 10 is wait time, allowing a student time to think before answering. I am not sure how technology would tie in with this one, but I sure do hope teachers do this. In all my years that has been one comment I have gotten from observers, is that I have wonderful wait time. Descriptors 11 and 12 can fit well with technology if students are given exploration time but are also held accountable to present what they explored.

I really enjoyed reading Creighton's model tech-tech related professional learning and would love to be involved with this type of professional development. I think in some ways, through this class that is what we are doing. Our assignment to blog and respond to peers blogs are step one. Our vision and SWOT analysis is step 2 and then our one year Action/Evaluation plan would be step 3.

Trailblazers are the ones out in front of the pack and want to try new things. They tend not to shy away from change but rather embrace it. Resistors are those who are uncertain about the change but can be lead to believe or not, depends on who takes their hand and leads them (the trailblazer or the saboteur). The saboteur is one who does not like change and actually tries to stop it. They feel comfortable doing things the way they always have (it worked all these years so why change) and need convincing to try something new. Resistors and saboteurs are most likely to act at the beginning of change. It is best to include them from the planning stages. Many time it is these people that come up with the driving questions for the need for change. The process will be much smoother if you get them on board early.

In my school, I think in most of the classes, technology is wearing the saddle and we are riding it. However there are some occasions when that is not the case and a well thought out professional development plan that accommodates for all teachers, those that have experience with the technology to those that don't is what is needed. We as teachers have to differentiate our instruction, so professional development should also be differentiated as we do not all learn the same way and we do not all start at the same spot. Which leads to Ch.8 where we learn that the principal should both manage and lead technology programs just as he or she does with all other areas of leadership within the school. If the principal does this then he/she is making sure that the technology is connected to all other areas of instruction.

As far as leaders and implementing technology, we must make sure that all are involved and given an equal voice. Creighton spoke of in-groups and out-groups and how the planning of professional development must take all into consideration. Opportunities to practice,observe, coach and be coached must be built into the technology plan for any chance that it will be successful. Technological changes may lead to structural changes and the principal needs to be prepared for this so he or she can lead all the teachers through the changes.

My school would like to be a 90/90/90 school, that is 90% free or reduced lunch, 90% ethnic minority, and 90% meet or exceed state standards. SO we need an increase in scores on the CRCT in all subject areas. Technology could help in academic areas, and should be used more often for engaged learning than for drill and practice.  We do need quality professional development that addresses our needs as teachers of a very diverse population. We need to learn what we have and how to effectively use it before we consider more technology. Time for peer collaboration as well as peer observation and coaching would help many at our school. Every teacher has strengths and weaknesses. If we focus on the strengths and how we can share those with our colleagues, it will be a step in the right direction.

Friday, October 8, 2010

P as TL, Creighton Ch. 5-10

Creighton Chap 5 (questions 1-6) more to follow.
Technology related professional learning still seems to be mostly about learning how to use software but needs to move more towards how do we tie the use of technology to the standards that we are teaching. The systems approach to management however has achieved a little more. In Cobb County, we have PICASSO which has all the standards that we teach for all grade levels online and a broad instructional map for grade levels and subjects. Constructivist learning has probably had the greatest effect on technology as it lends itself to exploration.

Of the five concepts that Creighton presents for Constructivist learning, very few are tied to technology use.  Teachers may use concept one to work with drill and practice for skills before turning students loose to explore as stated in concept 3. Then you could apply concept 5 as teachers guide students to programs or sites on the internet to gather the information that goes beyond drill and practice (possibly project oriented). Of the concepts, I have ranked them based on how much I think they are used in my building. The rankings are from greatest use down.  5. The role of teacher as guide, problem and task presenter. followed by 3. Teachers approach instruction with 2 or 3 main ideas that are "explored" rather than "covered". Then followed by 1. The teacher helps students build a foundation of skills and knowledge but allow students to use their creative abilities to solve real world problems. Next would come 4. Social discourse- interaction with others and finally 2. Students and teachers collaborate on the means of instruction and content.
Pepi and Scheurman warn us not to continue to use technology as merely drill and practice, but to move toward institutional reform. But in doing this, don't ignore a more fundamental problem - teachers who really don't know how to teach.

Some of the weaknesses in technology integration through professional learning programs are - not having follow up workshops or presentations to clarify misunderstandings or reteach something difficult and using professional to review drill and practice software as well as finding drill and practice through the internet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

History and Issues in Instructional Technology

Creighton stated that the theme of the book The Principal as Technology Leader is that effective technology integration has more to do with teaching pedagogy than the technology itself. I agree with this statement and feel it gives us a working direction. This concept puts more emphasis on using technology as a means to reach a goal as opposed to technology being the goal. The principal as leader must become involved in exploring new technologies of all kinds while keeping the focus on teaching and student learning. The principal does not want to just "purchase" new technology but instead wants to use what is already there to improve student learning and make sure any new purchases will support the same goal.

When one first hears the words "digital divide" you think of accessibility to computers, but this just barely skims the surface of what the divide is. Data shows the gap narrowing for access to computers for all students. The ratio of studnets per computer has gotten smaller, ranging from 3.0 to 6.5 with a US average of 4.9. We need to look at how those computers are used. In many of your poorer schools, the technology is used minimally for skill practice and simple word processing while at more affluent schools they are designing webpages and multimedia presentations. There also seems to be a divide in gender. Intentional or not, many girls are encouraged to remain in classes that are not as strong in computer science as the classes of their male counterparts. Special needs students, ELL students and low achieving students all need to be considered when planning technology use. Students are still being put on computers mostly for review and practice of skills, instead of more challenging uses such as web page creation or design. I think the largest gap is between high achieving and low achieving students. Many have a preconcieved notion that pow achieving students can't "do" and so are not given the opportunity to strive for a higher goal. They are given review work because that is all they can handle. We need to change our mindset and set high standards with the expectation that all can reach them. Technology can open up avenues of learning that will help many thrive and grow in many directions and build on undeveloped talents.

Technology programs fail for three main reasons - 1)inappropriate leadership 2) moving too fast and 3) failure to get the right people on board.  The moving too fast is one we have seen lots of. Keeping up with the Jones. Some new technology comes out and we have to have it, so it is purchased and minimal training is given then it is expected to be used. New tools are great but proper and continual training needs to be built in. When we teach, we don't expect every student to understand at the same time or in the same way. The same holds true for teachers. we need time to explore the technology and ask questions. Time is needed to build a working knowledge of the technology and then to apply it to what we want to accomplish. The second in order of relevance is inappropriate leadership. Inappropriate can be too little or too much. The best design would be for a principal as leader to identify issues for decision making and then lead the discussion amongst all stakeholders (parents, students, teachers, businesses and community members) to drive the process forward for the good of all. This touches on the last aspect of getting the right people on board. The community as a whole is invested in the education of our future leaders and we need them to see what we are aiming for and why.

My school does not have a technology plan that I am aware of, however I do think there is one for the school system. Research was done through pilot school in the county to see if IWBs would be beneficial for instruction. My school was one of the pilot schools and we all felt that the IWBs enhanced our instruction and provided more use of the internet and other technology resources as a  whole. I also got to serve on a committee that created flipcharts that would address county standards in math across elementary school grade levels.
I think a plan is necessary for technology use and loved Lempke's quote that
“There should be no technology plan, only a school improvement plan that has technology as an important component in it.”  This seems to ring true if we believe that technology is to enhance our instruction and learning and not be seen as a separate component. The goal is to know where we want to go, why do we want to go there, and how will we know when we get there. We need to realize where we are compared to where we want to be and start the building blocks to get us there.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What is Educational Technology?

The definition of "educational technology" is ever evolving. There are currently 4 perspectives that help define educational technology. Technology as 1)media and audio visual communications 2)instructional systems and designs 3)vocational training and 4)computer systems. Educational technology combines all of these and can be seen as the process and tools involved in addressing educational needs and problems.

Ongoing training needs to given to educators at all levels since technology tools are constantly emerging and changing. Other factors that influence education and technology use are -

Societal- Economics, the downturn in the economy has hit all levels including education, but the question remains will education receive those funds back as the economy improves. We must move ahead with the expectation that it will not. Anti-technology positions, some say there are too many risks associated with technology such as privacy, internet cyberporns and predators as well as competing dollars for other programs such as music and the arts. NCLB, has also impacted this as educational funding has dwindled but the expectations for educators to meet the needs of all students has risen. How to allocate funds is based on priorities that have research to back it up. This makes it ever more challenging to justify technology expenses along with potential risks to student users. Continued research results and best practices will help in this endeavor.

Educational- Standards movement, having to meet high stakes tests may allow technology use to help students and teachers reach this goal. Internet and Distance education, allows access to courses and degrees that might not otherwise be attainable. Directed vs. Inquiry-based instruction, long used and well validated is directed instruction. Inquiry-based is more modern but is still gathering data to prove effectiveness and how it meets the standards.

Cultural- Digital divide, the discrepancy in access to technology affected by economic status, race, gender and special needs.

Legal and Ethical- Viruses and Hacking, the ability to safeguard against these have sometimes restricted use. Plagiarism, greater online access makes easier for students to plagiarize but sites have also emerged to help teachers"catch" this and hopefully quell it. Privacy/safety, making sure to instruct all about guarding personal information. Copyright, online availability to publications sets up the need to make sure that teachers and students are aware of copyright laws for published works, even if found on the internet.

With all this information, it is easy to see what educators that want technology included in education are up against. Arming ourselves with this information and then building upon it, we hope to inform the communities we are in (starting within our school -with teachers, administrators and parents to reaching out to local businesses in the community that have a vested interest in the success of our schools) that technology is not supplemental to the education process but needs to be an integral part of education. Getting the community to understand the growing needs of society and to see that technology has reached into every realm of work. By introducing and allowing students experience with many forms of technology will equip them for an ever changing future.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

1st Blog

I am in Grad school and am trying to learn about blogging and other technological uses that will inspire students to strech their thinking, and in response, their learning. If you have any ideas or suggestions, PLEASE feel free to leave them here.