EDTC 6433 Meta-Reflection

Technology Bookmarks

Figure 1: Teaching Technology Resources Bookmarks

P4 – Practice the integration of appropriate technology with instruction. This standard refers to the effective integration and use of technology in the classroom so that students become technologically proficient learners in a world of rapid growth. During the course of this class, we have discussed the five ISTE standards for teachers, their benefits, and possible issues with the standards. Learning ways to successfully integrate technology into my classroom has been highly beneficial to me as I begin to form my own educational practices and ideas.

During this course, I have discovered many resources that will be useful to me as I begin my first year in teaching. Figure 1 shows the many bookmarks I have created to organize my resources for future reference. As I continue to develop my educational practice, I refer to these bookmarks for ideas, networking, and learning of my own. Though I would not say that these bookmarks all prepare me for integrating technology into my classroom right from the start, I believe they are a good beginning to effectively including them, and I will continue to research and develop ideas throughout my career. While researching these resources, I began to understand that integrating technology into the classroom is more involved than I had thought prior to this course. Not only is it teaching students how to research information using the internet; it is also continually developing my practice as a teacher to be informed and connected, using my evolving knowledge to teach my students to become responsible and safe citizens in a globally networked society. By using these resources to increase my own knowledge and fluency with technology, I will be able to model use and benefits of being a modern and globally connected citizen for students. Beyond research, it will be absolutely imperative for me to begin connecting with these professional networks and communities, and continue to stay up-to-date with current trends in technology.

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The Social Family of Models of Teaching

Albert Einstein once said that “the supreme art of the teacher is to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge,” a quote that I heard years ago and is still with me today. As I begin to form my instructional practices, I am finding that awakening joy in students can be both very challenging and also very rewarding. As a future elementary teacher, it is especially important that I foster a comfortable and encouraging classroom that is connected to communities within and without the classroom. HOPE standard H3 deals with this, stating that teacher candidates “honor the classroom and school community as a milieu for learning”. Part of this standard is ensuring students have the knowledge and skills for working with others. In a world of such rapid change, students need to have the skills to gather as much information as possible, sort through it, and make inferences with others who share the same goal. During this quarter, we discussed several strategy families that might influence my teaching. I believe that the social family of models of teaching as described in Models of Teaching (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015) will help me formulate a teaching style that encourages citizenship and values as well as learning to work together in groups. Social learning can foster student wellbeing as well as academic achievement, two concepts that are linked in the classroom despite seeming to be individual.”Social learning can enhance academic learning” (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015) and also create an environment conducive to productivity, engagement in the lesson, motivation, positive attitudes toward school, and positive interactions with peers (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone, 2012). Forming this environment will help me to bring joy into learning, and involve all students in a positive learning experience that will serve them throughout their lives.

Social knowledge can be constructed through the use of cooperative learning and group investigation in the classroom. By allowing students to work together on lessons and projects, I will be able to introduce important concepts such as citizenship and collaboration. There is a real need for graduating students to understand the fundamentals of both of these concepts, which we should be laying the foundations for at an early age. Students need to be able to coexist and collaborate with others to succeed both in school and in the world once they have graduated, and have the skills for working in a global society. In our current system, students are reduced to a number, and it becomes difficult to educate them in a way that will be beneficial to both themselves and society. We aren’t preparing students to take an input and produce an output. In the modern industry, “we assess our workforce on knowledge, skills, and dispositions. We test them on outcomes. We assess them on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and their ability to creatively solve problems” (Turnipseed, 2015), and I believe using the cooperative learning model will help me to teach all of these things. In order to employ this strategy and offer students an opportunity to interact with the content at a deeper level, it will require careful planning and preparation. I will not simply be able to ask students to “work together on this project”, as I have seen many teachers do. Instead, I will need to “establish a classroom culture that supports cooperative learning by being clear with students about the norms and parameters within which cooperative learning will take place” (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone, 2012). In other words, provide opportunities for various roles that each partner may take, teach students the process for working in groups, and provide feedback on students’ social skills. By using cooperative learning, I can “lay the foundation for student success in a world that depends on collaboration and cooperation” (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone, 2012). Major corporations want creative problem solvers who can come up with innovative, new solutions to issues, and they want them to be able to work as a team to do so (Turnipseed, 2015). John Dewey was one of the first thinkers to propose the idea of “group investigation” in a classroom (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015). In this model, students are “organized into problem-solving groups that attack academic problems and are taught democratic procedures and scientific methods of inquiry as they proceed” (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015). His ideas gave birth to the democratic method, in which groups of students develop a democratic social system, utilize the scientific method in scientific investigation, “use inquiry to solve a social or interpersonal problem”, and work through experience-based learning problems (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015). Though there is much criticism and fear that this method is not as quick to teach students academically, I don’t believe it should be discounted. When I am teaching elementary students, I consider it a part of my job to prepare students to become participating members of society in a way that is more interesting to them.

Despite being in a classroom of twenty to thirty students, often children spend their school hours working on assignments independently. I do believe that independent work has its place in the classroom. However, I also believe that having students consistently working on their own can make certain aspects of my job more difficult. Personalizing education to meet the needs of each individual student can be more challenging when every student is working on their own. But “cooperative learning structures provide students with opportunities to be a viable part of a collaborative group, where they must work together with roles and deadlines as well as personalities and preferences” (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone, 2012). By working together, they can divide up roles to suit the skills and abilities of one another. In Classroom Instruction that Works, Dean et al. (2012) describe a classroom where the teacher, Mr. Washington, engages his students in a discussion about the American Revolution and the events leading up to it. He gives students three roles to choose from; note taking, recording questions, and the reader. This gives each student in the group the opportunity to choose which role suits them best, and also lets students process their learning better as they discuss answers and notes, reflect upon their new knowledge, and listen to their peers (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone, 2012). They are also using principles of democracy to work with each other to problem-solve or think critically about their responses. I like this example in particular because it demonstrates clearly the effectiveness of such a method, and it is also a fairly simple one to employ. In my future classroom, I believe it will be beneficial for my students to transform some boring reading and note taking activities into a creative and interesting discussion among peers. Not only will they enjoy the activity more, but they will also be doing some deeper information processing and learning that will influence both wellbeing and academic success.

To reference John Dewey (1897) once again, he believed that “the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child’s powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself.” I disagree that this is the only true education, however Dewey makes an important point; when students are working in social situations, they are forced to “emerge from [their] original narrowness of action and feeling,” and realize that they belong to a group and so must act to benefit everyone (Dewey, 1897). Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone (2012) call this a “sink-or-swim-together” attitude, or positive interdependence. They develop this attitude, along with increased academic engagement and self-esteem, greater achievement, more motivation in class, and positive social attitudes, by talking through class material together and processing what they learn as a group (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone, 2012). As an elementary teacher, this will be especially important as I form my own teaching practices, as I will be laying the foundation for lifelong learning and collaborating. My teaching should include using the classroom as a set of communities which can work amongst themselves and each other. They should also be able to reach outside their classroom to other communities within the school and the district; with the right resources, it is possible for students to collaborate with schools around the world, giving them the basis for which to form their global citizenship. When students engage with one another, they “build [their] own insight into what’s being discussed. Someone else’s understanding complements [theirs], and together [they] start to weave an informed interpretation” (Conner, 2010). I want students in my classroom to have as many opportunities to engage with one another and feel comfortable in doing so. To do this, I will need to foster a warm, welcoming environment with explicit instruction and much practice in working cooperatively.

For my students to “successfully face rigorous higher education coursework, career challenges, and a globally competitive workforce” (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2015), I will need to align my classroom environment with communication, collaboration, and citizenship. As in HOPE standard H3, it will be important for me to implement classroom and school centered instruction, including connecting instruction to communities in and out of the classroom. I hope to introduce my students to cooperative learning early on, to help develop them into “ideal citizens who could live in and enhance their society, who could fulfill themselves in and through it, and who could even be able to help create and revise it” (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015). There is much research and support for cooperative and group learning. Albert Bandura’s (1971) social learning theory describes people learning from one another through modeling, imitation, and observation. Sir Ken Robinson (2010), social activist for creativity in schools argued that “the future for [innovation and creativity] is in a greater degree of dialogue and conversation. Collaboration isn’t just an idea for conference. It’s a key operating principle for the next phase of development in the 21st century.” As a teacher, I can choose to train my students to produce a given output, or I can choose to provide them with the tools they will need to become active, supportive members of a global community. I believe that by choosing the latter, I will not only be setting the foundation for a lifetime of collaboration and learning, I will also be providing an environment where students can find a joy in learning that stays with them throughout their lives. Albert Einstein was also known to have said that “education is what remains after one has forgotten what one learned in school.” While students may forget that the Civil War started in 1861, or the exact variables for the quadratic formula, they will remember how they learned and how they found answers. They will know that by working collaboratively, they can form deeper understanding of knowledge, and they will have the skills they need to be able to work in a team. By teaching students collaboratively, I believe I will be helping to produce the imaginative and global citizens of the future.

Sources

Bandura, A. (1971). Social learning theory. New York, NY: General Learning Press.

Connor, M. (2010). The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations through social media. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Dewey, J. (1897). My pedagogic creed. The School Journal. Retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1025157-dt-content-rid-2034500_1/courses/EDU6526_27922201452/SIS%20Session%205%20Reading%20%28Dewey%29.pdf

Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills Organization. (2015). Communication and collaboration. Retrieved from: http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework/261

Robinson, K. (2011). Out of our minds: Learning to be creative. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Capstone.

Turnipseed, S. (2015 March 2). A student’s creativity is everyone’s business. P21 Blog (2)3, 1. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/news-events/p21blog/1605-a-students-creativity-is-everyones-business

Model Digital-Age Work and Learning

In the ISTE standard 3 for teachers, it is important for teachers to “exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society” (ISTE, 2015). In this standard, teachers need to be able to demonstrate fluency in technology systems and use that fluency in the transfer to new situations, collaborate with peers, parents, and community members with digital tools, and communicate relevant information using technology, (ISTE, 2015). The fourth part of the ISTE standard talks about using digital tools for finding, analyzing, and using information resources to support research and learning, and this is what I chose to focus on this week. For this standard, my guiding question was:

In an increasingly technology-rich world, how can I use common digital tools for collaboration between community members, teachers, parents, and students so that student learning is enriched with local and global resources?

During this course, I have been very interested in how I can incorporate technology into my classroom without putting an enormous strain on some students while making it much easier for others (for example, with the digital divide as a big factor). There is evidence to suggest that in many cases, students may not have access to computers but they do have access to smartphones and the internet (Goodman, 2013). So for my question about ISTE standard 3, I wanted to find something that was accessible by more people, allowed for communication, and also enriched student learning in an impactful way.

My solution was a tool that many people don’t think of as very educative: Skype. Largely used for communicating, Skype doesn’t appear to be very useful to a classroom at first glance. However, as a member of my learning circle suggested, there are many useful ways to incorporate Skype beyond what I was imagining, making it a wonderful tool for collaboration, connection, and learning (Marshal, 2015). One of the ideas I liked best from this resource was that parent-teacher conferences could be held via Skype. Although this may not be possible or practical, it gave me the thought that rather than worry about parents getting emails or newsletters, if I needed to speak directly with a parent, I have another outlet that may be easier and more personal than a note or phone call.

Skype can also be used to enrich student learning. In a study on transferring familiarity with new technologies to educational environments (Kumar & Vigul, 2011), one preservice teacher commented on online videos used in classes “to see real examples of teachers teaching in real classrooms using different methods being talked about. While it’s always an option to read about teaching and talk about teaching, the videos provide a real life example to see implementation of practice.” This same thought can be transferred to much younger students, who are learning about local or global topics. If a class is having a unit on tectonic plates, then what an amazing way to demonstrate the power of the earth’s movements by contacting a tour company in Iceland to take you on a “field trip” to Thingvellir and Silfra, places where the diverging North American and European tectonic plates are visible from the surface. Not only do they get to see what it’s like, but they can interact with their field guide and ask questions, share what they know, and make connections between their learning and a place halfway across the world. In addition, Skype can be used to connect two classrooms. In my classroom, I plan to have “pen pals”, except I would like to use the practice as a way to get my students to practice typing. I can enrich their experience by including occasional Skype calls with the classroom we write to, allowing students to experience what school is like in other parts of the world. One concern with this is the time differences, making it impossible to have conversations with some regions, but I feel that the benefits of speaking even to a classroom across the country can greatly improve student communication and learning.

Though not a tool for everyday communication between parents, teachers, students, and colleagues, Skype is a wonderful addition for enriching student learning and experience. It allows for collaboration between classrooms and teachers, offers an alternative way of communication that may be more personal for some parents, ensures the teacher is staying current with communication technologies, and allows for potential virtual field trips and visitors to enhance learning on a topic.

Goodman, J.  18 August, 2013. The digital divide is still leaving Americans behind. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2013/08/18/digital-divide/

ISTE (2015). ISTE standards: Teachers. Retrieved from: http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-T_PDF.pdf

Kumar, S., Vigil, K., (2011). The net generation as preservice teachers: Transferring familiarity with new technologies to educational environments. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27(4), 144 – 153.

Marshal, J. (7 February, 2015). ISTE Standard 3. [Comment 3 on Meghan Welsh]. Message posted to: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111058430962704146204/stream/c08ea841-0e78-4ca8-b2f4-3d5c3fb4ae2c