Educational Opportunity via Twitter

This tweet has a very interesting quote that is relevant to our class because it relates directly to educational use of technology. This goes without being said, but technology is very expensive. Many districts around the state of Illinois and even all over the country are unable to provide technology to their schools due to their poverty level, which also makes it an unrealistic expectation to think that students would have access to it at their homes. Like the quotes says, integrating technology into the classroom is unrealistic without the proper funding and knowledge on how to use it properly.

Change is constantly going on around everyone in our society. In the 21st century education has experienced some of the biggest changes it ever has, these are the use of technology, standardized assessments, the Common Core State Standards and many others. This specific tweet talks about how standardized assessments are affecting how math curriculum has to be taught. With unrealistic expectations and very short amounts of time allotted to teaching students certain material, students and teachers alike a loosing interest. In order to change this and inspire students to enjoy the mathematical challenge, teachers need to step up and be leaders. This article explains the story of a school staff that stepped up their game and taught students the necessary curriculum in a more enjoyable and manageable way.

This tweet includes a video of Arne Duncan talking about how educational opportunity needs to be available to everyone equally, not just an individual party. It is very easy for educators and politicians to say that there needs to be equality, but to actually ensure there is, can be very difficult. The inequality still being faced is one of the main triggers for the ESEA, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now, No Child Left Behind) which was a huge step in making equality and providing a more substantial set of laws that schools are required to preform. Although he mentions that these are now outdated, they did make a large difference and as the changes are becoming more widely accepted, additions to the laws can now be made. This affects my future because I will need to ensure that every student does receive equal opportunities and that my classroom(s) have a great sense of community, regardless of the student’s background.

Finding Success In a World Full of Options

The blog I read this week was about encouraging students to reach their full potential and to never settle for something that is not making you happy in all areas of your life. The post started off by giving an interesting analogy that I will share below:

“What do the following four men have in common?”

  1. Peter Diamondis, founder of XPrize and Singularity University
  2. Salman Ahmed, Pakistani musician and lead of the band Junoon
  3. Pau Gasol, basketball player now on the Chicago Bulls
  4. Ken Joeng, comedian from the movie Hangover

“Besides being all male, they all went to medical school”

In my mind this was such a great introduction because although all these males worked extremely hard to get through medical school, none of them are still practicing. These career paths that they have chosen are completely astray from what they had envisioned, I’m sure, but they were able to eventually find their true passion.

This blog not only talks about finding your true passion, but it also talks about ways that parents can help their children to do so. As a future educator, this is very important for us as well. Here I am going to share some of the advice the article gives to parents:

  • Encourage and challenge children to make their own decisions
  • Provide tools for children to explore and imagine all the possibilities
  • Encourage children to not compare themselves to others, but rather to themselves and their growth
  • Ask questions that encourage children to find their passions and define their goals

These are only 4 of 10 of the recommended ways given for parents to encourage students, but I think that educators can have an active role in this process as well. The more people involved and the more support students receive will give them more opportunities to find their true passion and explore all the wonderful options available to them.

Redefining The Classroom

The Cool Cat Teacher does such a wonderful job at addressing issues that arise in classrooms. This specific article talks about the use of technology and how educators that are not comfortable with technology are using it in the wrong ways. More specifically it states “you’ve got a classroom using 21st century technology for 20th century teaching”. I thought this point was very interesting and also very true.

In classrooms I have been in that are new at incorporating technology I have noticed that more often than not the teachers are using the technology to reinforce the previous learning or to teach concepts in a more simple, speedier way. Although, this is not always a bad thing, the article discusses that successfully using technology requires replacing old methods of teaching with new. This is important because educators fall into using the technology to do their job for them, but finding new methods of teaching will provide a more solidified incorporation of the technology. SAMR is an acronym given to the steps of including technology in lesson plans. This stands for, Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. Here is an article explaining that more in detail.

Overall, this blog posts talks about the importance of not only incorporating technology in the 21st century classrooms, but doing it in the correct, most efficient way. With the up roaring of emphasis on technology students and teachers both need to start using it to create things rather than always use what is already out there. This will effect how I look at technology now because it forces me and my peers to be more creative and challenge our students to do so as well.

On a side note, coding was talked about in this blog post, which was relevant to our class because of the use of technology and the little seminar we attended.

Tweeeeeeeet #SPED312

This article emphasizes the importance of student voice. This is critical because in this day and age, with all the technology,  anyone regardless of age can share their opinion and views on any topic. It then goes on to discuss how widely spread any information on the internet is and that anyone can find anything. Many students who were just born into this technology culture do not realize how easily information is spread and how amazing it is that everything is literally within a click on the mouse. The author mentions that teaching students to be aware of the network and realize that everything they post can be seen by many people and it is as permanent as writing in ink, maybe even more. Overall, this article talked about amplifying student voice as as well as making them aware of the ‘digital legacy’ they are building on by posting on the internet. Here is a video talked about in the article. Check it out!

Here is a second interesting tweet I found,

This tweet is focused around incorporating technology in reading lessons and really finding a way for students to be more drawn to read. I thought this was relevant because we often talk about this in our CI 475 class. As almost every article I have read says “students of today are different” and they all say this because of the impact technology has had on their lives, as well as their learning. The author mentions how much of a challenge it is to continue to get students to think reading is fun and stimulating like many other alternatives they are presented with. She also talks about using technology to teach reading, but follows that up by stating that there is nothing quite the same as the true text. As this challenge is presented to me and all future educators, I am curious to see what alternative methods are discovered for teaching reading and the basic concepts that fall under it, vocabulary, phonics, phonemic awareness, ect.

This third tweet was the most valuable one I found. It talks about the impact that teacher attitude has on student attitude, more specifically toward technology, but it applies in all areas of learning. They mentioned a study was done to prove that if the teachers have anxiety about something, their students are way more likely to feel the same. Another good point was that although many of todays teachers were not taught or raised with as much technology, there is no excuse for not learning about it and incorporating into the classroom. The article also mentions different examples of ways to incorporate it aside from the classic computer lab time. In conclusion, having a positive and enthusiastic attitude towards technology will encourage students too as well. Like the article mentions, even if technology is something ‘scary’ or unfamiliar to a teacher, it is important that they attempt to use it, fail and try again, just like what teachers teach their students to do with new concepts.

Here is a link to an article that provides teachers examples of ways to incorporate technology in math lessons.

Food For Thought

Being energetic, enthusiastic, and confident are three qualities that educators should strive to preform each day in the classroom. Student’s emotions and interest in a topic are influenced greatly by how the teacher feels about it. For example, having a monotone teacher causes student interest to decrease and also causes students to also be drowsy and not motivated. My current math teacher comes to class with enough energy to power the entire classroom- even though it is at 8:30 in the morning. I cannot begin to stress how much of a difference his energy makes on the classroom environment and my interest in the topics. I thought this tweet is a great reminder to all educators.

Another great reminder for all teachers. This is especially important and being emphasized more in 21st century classrooms. The application of knowledge is not only proof that students understand what they have been taught, but it also deepens the understanding. When students are able to learn, process, and apply a concept it is much more likely to be engrained in their memory. Making students learning a lot of random facts and testing them on them without the applying them first sets students up to immediately forget the information. This is basically what teachers do in order to ‘teach for the test’, which has NO benefit to students learning or success.

A second cool cat teacher tweet because she really knows the in’s and out’s of the classroom. Finding student’s strengths and empowering them in the classroom leads to a very effective classroom environment. Throughout my schooling experiences and through observation I think that the classrooms that are structured in a way that students participation is equivalent to curriculum instruction are the most effective. Building good relationships with students and empowering them to succeed and build upon their strengths makes students more motivated.

All the tweets I found this week were more general statements about building a classroom environment and teaching students in more effective ways. Every educator should be reminded of these things and continually work to make school and their classrooms better.

Wrong Wrong Wrong

This article I found on talks all about how WRONG the testing process is and how it goes against almost everything that studies have proven to help students achieve higher scores. First of all, testing in a similar setting to where learning takes place allows students to recall information more easily- even with this knowledge most testing is done in computer labs or gyms where many students can take exams at once. Another point that came up was that distractions may be a good thing. In everyday learning experiences students face distractions. Although typically being distracted is not a good thing, if students learn in a distractive environment, chances are they will score high in a similar environment. A third thing mentioned was that chewing gum stimulates the brain and also has proven to been helpful to student test scores.

I don’t know about all of you, but in my school we were tested in gyms, we had to be silent and couldn’t move from our seats, and we were not allowed to chew gum. Hmm.. Interesting considering all of those things have been proven to help students.

Differentiation is a huge part of classroom instruction and teachers emphasis this in their classrooms everyday. Is testing differentiated in any way? NO. Again.. very interesting.

All in all, todays educational system is too focused on ‘test scores’. Schools are being rated on how highly their students perform on tests, schools receive more funding if their students perform better, and so on. With this system in place what makes educators want to teach students anything not on the test? This issue is something that needs to be discussed and worked through in the educational system and rather than having so many tests, educators should begin to think more about “how they can improve students lives now and in the future”, and “how they can empower them and their strengths”.

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How Many Times Can We-Tweet #SPED312

Since this class focuses so much on social networking, my favorite networking site is Pinterest. Pinterest is a website that allows bloggers, stores, and anyone else to share images that connect to their information. As it is such a big trend the world of education has also become involved. This tweet gives 20 tips on how to use the site and how to find and organize the most useful information. I think this is important for all teachers because it gives thousands of ways to organize the classroom, different graphic organizers and even different ideas on how to use technology and incorporate it into lessons. Here is an example of something I found on Pinterest that will be helpful in the classroom. #happypinning

Here is another tweet,

On the same topic of the prevalence social media is having on the educational system, studies are now being done to show that social media can have positive effects on student writing. Some of the different things that are stated to show that writing can improve are it allows students to connect with an audience, write in a personal more authoritative way, and  get more rapid feedback. When the article says that social media writing allows students to connect with an audience they are referring to the ability of others to comment and/or like (or dislike) students posts. This interaction allows for deeper analysis of the writing and information they are writing about. Also, social media allows students to write in a more personal way. Social media allows students to express their opinions more freely and also provide hyperlinks to supporting data. Finally this article talks about receiving feedback in a more timely manor. This is helpful because it keeps students motivated and encouraged to continuously improve upon their work. Here is a link to the full site of why social media can actually improve writing.

Final tweet,

This final tweet I found is the steps to integrating technology into the classroom. This is so important because a lot of the teachers currently are outdated on their knowledge of technology and students are loosing interest. Integrating and keeping the most up to date technology in the classroom is extremely beneficial. For the 1000th time the impact technology is having on students is very substantial. The stages in this tweet start with being directed (high instruction), to access, to mobile, to self-directed (low levels of instruction). This progression of integrating technology in the class is very similar to how educators introduce any new concept into the classroom. This is helpful because students are familiar with the process of having more structured lesson plans to working more with groups or on their own and will be able to adjust smoothly.

The Personal Learning Network Continues to Grow #SPED312

This week in class we were introduced to yet another great website to connect with people and gain valuable educational knowledge, called Feedly. Feedly is a website that contains thousands of blogs relative to any topic imaginable. This is a great site for our class to get involved with because it basically provides a longer and more in depth version of what the tweets we find on twitter say. Some people I decided to follow on Feedly, to build my personal learning network are, Cool Cat Teacher, iLearn Technology, TED Education, and many more. Hopefully these sites are useful to develop my further knowledge of teaching and educational technology. Here is a blog I found to be interesting.

This post was so interesting because it brought up a very valid point of discussion, the different between achievement and relevance. Achievement is basically what schools focus on in their curriculum. Many people argue that they never use a lot of the information they learn in schools in their careers. Teaching relevant information basically argues that students should learn only information that will make them successful in their future jobs. I argued that in a educational system focused around only relevant information student would not be able to figure out which subjects they are most interested in. Allowing students to learn information in all content areas, achievement based learning, allows for them to learn which areas they enjoy most and find a path in which they want to eventually pursue a career in.

This is a TED talk video that talks about the type of learning that 21st centuries need to experience. He talks about the importance of critical thinking, problem solving, and that students need to be asking questions and finding problems rather then just solving ones they are given. Something he found on his trip around to 64 different schools is that innovation needs to be improved upon, and that schools need to be more open and flexible to change. Understanding that change takes time he encourages schools to start as soon as possible. More modern day schools are becoming creative spaces for students to explore and develop/reflect on their own knowledge. Different words that are now being used to describe modern day education are creative, adaptive, permeable, dynamic, systemic, and self correcting. All in all, there is so much room for innovation, while it is very important to keep the traditional values schools hold.

I feel like this article and TED talk video are important for all educators to see because they really stress important things to address with 21st century learners and rise points that should be considered and improved upon at all times.

Weekly Challenge #5

This week in class we talked about the importance of digital story telling. Although creating digital stories may take educators some additional time, the benefits they provide to students are much greater than a boring power point. Digital stories provide students with visuals and vocals which give them more to focus on while learning and processing information. As I have realized through creating my own digital story, they can be complicated. Watching this video helped give me ideas while I created my own.

Although every digital story is different and can be altered to fit any subject area. This weekly challenge focused on the Ignite presentations. Ignite is an event where people make a 5 minute video, consisting of 20 different images each shown for 15 seconds with voice overs.  The Ignite I choose to make focused on my personal life over the summer. For students who watch my video they would learn the many activities and hobbies I have over the summer. Although, this may not be of interest to  everyone, I hope you enjoy my summer time adventure.