Standard 10 Technology: Integrates current technology into instruction and professional communication/collaboration activities where appropriate.
Technology is a major part of our lives; therefore it’s no surprise that it’s becoming an integral part of classrooms. The students that are entering schools today have spent an obscene amount of time and energy exploring, playing, watching and utilizing the many digital tools that they’re surrounded by and have access to, according to Marc Prensky they’re digital natives. “Our students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet,” (Prensky, 2001). As a digital native myself when I first began teaching the technology resources we had were the student PCs in our classrooms, generally anywhere from 4-6, a computer lab in the media center, a teacher PC and an overhead projector. Since 2006 a lot has changed in the application of technology as well as the learning curve about how to present and utilize the many new resources available.
New Learning and Application of Practice
Two years ago my school district implemented a new math curriculum by Pearson, it’s called EnVisions. In order to align with the Common Core State Standards our district introduced this program in hopes that it would help teachers begin to transition towards the National set of standards as opposed to the Washington State standards. This program has been amazing and wonderful to use with my little digital natives. Not only are the ideas and materials interesting and fun to use, most of it is very interactive and digital. For every lesson there’s a short video that introduces and expands on the concept and vocabulary. I use my whiteboard as my “screen” so that while the video is playing the students and I can make notes and work along with the video. There’s also an introductory video for every Topic that uses real world examples to share with the students the importance of what they’re going to learn about, and if that’s not enough it also has multiple games that students can play at school or home to practice the new material. More importantly it allows the teacher to “assign” students activities, assignments and assessments that can be accessed by the students and tracked by the teacher. “Data on individual and group progress in a given classroom, school, or district is a central feature of the new NCLB Act accountability requirements,” (Doering & Veletsianos, 2009, p. 79).
As part of a requirement for my EDTC 6432 class I created a short video to help my students and their parents access their own personal EnVision website that is specific to each child in my classroom. I simply emailed every parent with the link and they were able to log in and explore with their students at home, I made this video through a free online tool called Screenr.
Another fun device I use is Renaissance Responders which are remotes that could be used in many different ways and served as motivation tools that my kids love to use. I use them for our pop quizzes that I make through a PowerPoint presentation, students would use their individual remotes to answer multiple choice questions and as a class we could see how many students choose which answer and then I could reveal the correct answer after everyone was finished. It’s a very fun tool that my kids love using and keeps them interested. For my ELL and Special Ed students I would allow them a responsible peer partner to work alongside with them to help them participate and be involved. “Used in the context of authentic and active learning communities, technologies can scaffold learners’ explorations beyond the bounds of their current knowledge and provide multidimensional routes of investigation,” (Oakes & Lipton, 2003, p. 241). I believe it’s important to use as many tools and resources to engage my students, I want them to see and interact with all that’s available to me and them in order to support their learning.
Another way I use the responders is as digital flashcards for my kids to practice their math facts, students had individual log-in ID numbers that would allow them to keep track of what facts they’ve passed and mastered. “Research has shown that drill-and-practice software activities can allow the effective rehearsal students need to transfer newly learned information into long-term memory,” (Doering & Veletsianos, 2009, p. 80). Our school also purchased a math fluency program called Fast Math which also supports drill-and-practice, especially for second and third graders who have the fluency standard for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The expectation is 20-30 facts in one minute, using this program helps our students with the automaticity needed to fulfill this standard. Using these types of software and programs as opposed to the paper pencil method provides teachers and students with: immediate feedback, motivation and saving teacher time. (Veletsianos, 2009).
Another technology assignment that my EDTC 6432 class assigned was a Webquest. A Webquest is a teacher facilitated structured assignment that has students use the Internet to research questions and make discoveries. This type of assignment is utilizing the strategy of inquiry which has students using real world examples and information to pose questions and make discoveries and shape their own learning. WebQuests are composed of five elements: the Introduction, Task, Process, Evaluation and Conclusion. The Task and Process could be confused with one another, however how I see and differentiate the two is that the task introduces students to the software that they will use, and gives them the purpose for the assignment, it’s important to keep this portion short and sweet. The Process gives students links to use that has been predetermined by the teacher. There are many benefits that are associated with using WebQuests in the classroom, such as: active and authentic student engagement, allows students to practice technology skills, and learn to use the Internet as a tool for finding information, it engages teachers’ creativity to combine content area or subjects and can be used as an alternative assessment tool. This webquest was designed for my third grade students last year. It’s designed for students to learn collaboratively in groups about a particular Native American group such as the Indians of the Southwest, Plains, Eastern Woodland or Pacific North Coast while incorporating Language Arts, History, Geography, and environmental Science. This type of online assignment is designed to have third grade students work cooperatively and collaboratively on designing a PowerPoint presentation. It allows students to parallel their learning about Native Americans with research they’ve done on the Internet. While the webquest is designed by the teacher in that the websites that students use are already pre-chosen by the teacher, it does help set students up and prepare them for future reports, research projects and other activities that they will incur in school and life. “Contextualized and situated learning activities are valuable to learning. This has led to calls for authentic or real-world learning where class activities resemble activities that learners may face in their life outside of the classroom” (Veletsianos, 2011).
Being digitally competent and technologically savvy has helped infuse my daily instruction with materials, software and programs that will enhance my lessons and increase student engagement. However my goal isn’t just to increase student engagement by the use of technology, it’s also my goal to model safe and responsible use of online tools, search engines and programs for my students. In doing so I’m providing my students with the opportunities to use the appropriate technology tool to support and develop a specific content skill, concept or standard. When students are allotted this chance every day or every other day, then I’m helping to make them competent digital users. Or as Marc Prensky might say, competent and educated “digital natives.”
Doering, A., Veletsianos, G. (2009). Teaching with instructional software. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education
Lipton, M., Oakes, J. (2003). Teaching to change the world. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies
Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning.Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Veletsianos, G. (2011). Designing Opportunities for Transformation with Emerging Technologies. Educational Technology, 51(2), 41-46.
Module 7 introduced the assignment task known as WebQuest. We read and learned about what WebQuests are and how they’re implemented in education.
Clear: After completing the readings and participating in the screencast, what is clear to me about WebQuests is what they are, how they’re used and can be used in classrooms. A Webquest is a teacher facilitated structured assignment that has students use the Internet to research questions and make discoveries. This type of assignment is utilizing the strategy of inquiry which has students using real world examples and information to pose questions and make discoveries and shape their own learning. WebQuests are composed of five elements: the Introduction, Task, Process, Evaluation and Conclusion. The Task and Process could be confused with one another, however how I see and differentiate the two is that the task introduces students to the software that they will use, and gives them the purpose for the assignment, it’s important to keep this portion short and sweet. The Process gives students links to use that has been predetermined by the teacher. There are many benefits that are associated with using WebQuests in the classroom, such as: active and authentic student engagement, allows students to practice technology skills, and learn to use the Internet as a tool for finding information, it engages teachers’ creativity to combine content area or subjects and can be used as an alternative assessment tool.
Unclear: The only unclear aspect for me in this module is how to go about finding reliable weblink resources online for students to use for particular webquest assignments. I’m wondering if there’s some way to go about finding safe and up-to-date online websites that will supply students and teachers with the necessary information that students can use to complete their task.