Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tool #11 Self Reflection

   Now that I am at the end of the 11 Tools, I have learned that Symbaloo, a digital bookmarking site, is one of my best resources. Having all my bookmarks in one central location for my professional and personal work helps me to be as efficient as I can be at school and at home.  In addition, as I plan for the January 3 staff development with a team at school, I am using Survey Monkey to create a survey that will help me tailor the training to my teachers at school and Google Docs to facilitate communication among all the members of my team.
   My vision for education remains relatively the same in that students need to be highly engaged in order for learning to take place. The 21st century tools help change student roles in the classroom because with the plethora of online instruction, students can be a contributor in developing a path for learning. The teacher no longer needs to be the only holder of the knowledge, she or he can facilitate the students' learning by guiding them to learn how to learn.
   At the end of my introduction to web tools through the 11Tools PD, I have discovered that web literacy and digital citizenship are crucial skills to teach students in order to operate in online society. Moreover, the tools that are available to students to learn, create, and communicate are easier to use than ever. When our school finally receives our new technology deployment, I know that our teaching transformation can truly begin.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tool #10 Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship is an important issue that teachers and our educational system need to address. Before the age of itouches, smartphones, iPad like devices, and social networks, the majority of student interactions with the web were confined to educational activities they did at school or playing computer games with friends outside of school. With social networking sites and ubiquitous smartphones, young people are now fully participating in the online world. While there are incredible opportunities to harness this power for learning to help students become productive people, students also have vast opportunities to be hurt by others and to hurt others by not realizing their duty as citizens of the online world.

ISTE has outlined some guidelines listed below that we, as teachers and society, must teach students about digital citizenship. Not surprisingly, the many of the topics parallel the discussions we must have with students about living in real society. Perhaps educators can and should discuss digital citizenship as it applies to the online world and the real world (should we refer to the real world as the offline community?) At any rate, whether one likes or dislikes student participation in online communitiies, young people are already fully ensconced in the cyberworld. We need to teach them to be productive members of any society. Using guidelines such as the one below will remind us that digital citizenship needs to be taught by everyone.
Student Learning and Academic Performance
Digital Access: full electronic participation in society
Digital Literacy: the process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology
Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information
School Environment and Student Behavior
Digital Security & Safety: electronic precautions to guarantee safety/physical well-being in a digital technology world
Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure
Digital Rights and Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world
Student Life Outside the School Environment
Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods
Digital Health and Wellness: physical and psychological well-being
Digital Law: rights and restrictions

How do we teach citizenship to students and parents?
I believe that students should learn about digital citizenship an integrated part of their lessons. As students use the web for blogging for instance, a short mini lesson about ettiquette has to be taught and modeled by the teacher.  Occasionally, students ought to make short screencasts, public service announcements if you will, about being a good digital citizen. These screencasts should be included in the blogs for students to share with their parents as they show their parents online work that they are doing in school.

Alan November has taught us that students ought to be the driving force behind their own learning. Just as we can use the instructional strategy of "Flipping (where the student learns about the concept via video at home and practices homework problems at school)" in the classroom, we can also apply it to home instruction. Instead of the parents teaching students about digital citizenship or teachers teaching parents, students should be the ones to teach their parents about it via their blogs or tweeting to their parents as part of their classwork about citizenship.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tool #9

Technology should be part of the input as teachers write lesson plans, and it should be considered as they are writing their objective. The resources that are available to students these days online are incredible and the presentation tools help facilitate the synthesis of material. 
While requiring teachers to write technology into their objectives may be a viable way to encourage teachers to use technology, I believe asking teachers to add relevance to their lessons may lead them naturally to incorporate technology in their instruction.

There are many ways to use the tech tools including the use of it at a center or station. Whenever students do independent work, it is important to have an accountability piece to help students monitor their own work. Without it, neither the teacher nor the student can prove that there was evidence of learning.

I liked visiting MangaHigh and XLI Math in my explorations. Both tools allow the user to choose specific math skills to focus on and offers immediate feedback. The instantaneous response to students really motivates them to continue working and keeps them engaged. MangaHigh and XLI math sites would be good for stations and small group work. The teacher just has to have a reflective journal which asks students to respond or comment about the work they did while using MangaHigh or XLI math. 

    Some of the apps that I have discovered include Brain Tuner, Find Sums, and WolframAlpha. In Brain Tuner, students can choose three different time parameters. Students decide whether a given equation is true or false with a set time limit. Find Sums is similar to Brain Tuner only students have a set time limit to find all the combinations to a specific sum. These types of apps would require students to use the app multiple times in one setting to collect data on him or herself. A student would be required to use the app at least ten times to collect data about his or her progress. This data could be collected over the course of one week or two weeks. Using the app in this way actually encourages students to practice a given set of skills in order to collect data for creating graphs. Without the collection of data, the app may only have a weak hold on students' attention. Drill and kill apps can be fun, but they only hold the player's attention briefly. Wolfram Alpha is different. This app helps a student solve a problem and represents the solution in multiple ways. Students would benefit from Wolfram especially when working on order of operations. The station for this app could change from week to week because it address multiple skills across many disciplines.
    The itouch or ipad are great tools for communicating. Students can always use journals or notes for writing down short stories and capturing a picture for it immediately. Younger students could write about cafeteria life and take pictures to accompany their story. The combination of writing tool with camera opens the door to many opportunities. Math students can use the device to ask experts about questions. My personal itouch was invaluable as I visited bilingual classrooms observing instruction. Newcomers to the country have instant access to translators for many languages. The application of the tool is only limited by imagination.