Equity of Technology in the Classroom

I think the goal of all educators is to have technology and the internet accessible to all students.  It really isn’t fair that all of this technology is out there in the world, and only a select number of individuals are allowed to be among its residents.  As educators we have to be incredibly careful about what we assign our students and that we not assume that each one of our students has access to technology in the same way that we do.

If a school is outfitted with technology only within the four walls and ceiling during the course of the school day, we can only use technology during that time.  Homework cannot involve the use of technology unless we are certain that our students have devices that they can use and internet services available to them within their homes.  I applaud companies that offer wifi services to its customers, and locations, but students should not have to navigate the streets looking for wifi zones.  Even if a school has a one to one device policy that doesn’t mean that the students have internet access, it just means that they have a device that allows them to use the internet programs.  Be careful teachers, DO NOT under ay circumstance assume that your students are equipped with everything that they need.

This article, Study: Free Computers Don’t Close The Rich-Poor Education Gap brings up an important point, that just because our students have access to a computer and internet doesn’t mean that they are using it properly or for the right educational tools we are assuming they are.  Thus, the ideology behind digital citizenship is crucial, and the earlier we introduce our students to this the better off they will be navigating the correct use of technology.

To try to kick the battle of equity and the digital divide in my classroom, I have students fill out an anonymous survey about computer availability at home the first day of school so that I am aware of the general availability of computers and internet of my students.  Unless I receive 100% computer and internet availability, I know that I will not assign any out of school internet required work.  I think this is a good practice because it relieves the embarrassment from students as the survey is completely anonymous and the students can feel at ease sharing with me their accessibility.

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Common Sense Media Certificate

Here is the link for my Common Sense Media Certificate

https://docs.google.com/a/marymount.edu/document/d/1fyVdTuqTgjRffdxvPCd5Lj33SPUgrYpnUjRIOXOp2kE/edit?usp=sharing

I have already shared the common sense curriculum with both my Middle School and Elementary School Directors in the hope that we can adapt the curriculum to suit our needs as a school.  This is really an excellent resource and I look forward to hopefully getting my school involved with it.

Inquiry Based Learning

Library of Congress Module Certificate

Above is my certificate of completion for the Library of Congress Inquiry Based Learning Module.  I found the module to be interesting and realized that I already do inquiry based learning almost every day in my classroom with each of the grades that I teach 3-8.  I have had people observe me and tell me that they are impressed with how engaged students are with their own learning and I attribute most of that to the inquiry based learning concept.

My Response to the Speak Up Digital Learning 24/7 Student Report

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9i74OQgM5ocUHFvOUs4N1R0QzQ/view

The results of the student surveys that are portrayed in the report are not surprising to me at all.  Kids want to use technology, they want to be engaged with the material they are learning, and they want the ability to be creative.  What students want is what teachers crave.  Think about it, for years, decades even, teachers have been complaining that they struggle to find a way to get their students engaged with the boring mundane material of cell processes, including osmosis and diffusion.  Complaints of how they can’t get the students to see the importance of understanding those processes because they are not something that the students see on a daily basis.  But now, with technology and the students in our classes being digital natives, we can make the typical boring and mundane topics of cellular processes fun, project based learning, and completely engaging, all of which hold the students accountable for their own learning and allow for the teacher to act as a coach rather than the sole keeper of content.

It is important to note that 63% of students in grades 6-12 think that a blended learning environment would be a good way for them to learn.  So it should be understood that as much as students like 21st century learning with technology and project based learning, they still enjoy and crave some directed instruction by their teacher’s.  This is a bright spot for educators in that we will not be phased out.  (Let the partying commence, we didn’t spend thousands of dollars an getting a M.Ed for nothing!)

For my instruction in the classroom this means that I will find a nice balance between technology use and direct instruction.  I will continue to provide ample opportunities for my students to work collaboratively on solving real world problems and making the classroom environment a collaborative one rather than the traditional model of one direction where the teacher holds the information.  I will encourage my students to use digital media such as blogs, and twitter.

Flipped Classroom Lesson

Here is my first attempt at a flipped lesson creation using iMovie and edpuzzle.  Check it out and enjoy.  https://edpuzzle.com/embed/a/558dff3a462ec046037b4fea/558dfae8462ec046037b4f94

I have never experienced a flipped lesson before, but creating one was pretty easy.  I took slides that I had already created for a regular directed instruction lesson on clouds and saved them as image files.  Then I imported those slides as images to iMovie.  Once the images were in iMovie I recorded a script that I had written for each slide over them, creating a movie.  Once the movie was finished, I transferred it into EDpuzzle (an awesome resource, thank you Professor Knight!)  While in EDpuzzle I was able to locate exact points within the video to add different types of questions to make sure that students watched the video in entirety.  EDpuzzle is neat because you are not restricted to certain types of questions, you can have true/false, multiple choice, an even open ended critical thinking questions.  I chose to use EDpuzzle because it tracks the progress of your students and gives them the opportunity to correct their answers to the quiz before they can move on to the next question, therefore ensuring that they master the material before moving on.

Up until this point I was completely against flipping a classroom because I felt that it would prevent the natural free flowing movement of knowledge and understanding and questioning from students.  However, my thoughts have been changed and I have completely changed my opinion on the matter, at least for my middle school students.  I think flipping a classroom environment would be perfect for middle school, especially some of the easier content and concepts of science.  I think it would be great for students to watch a lecture at home, and then bring their questions into class the following day, which would also allow for more time spent on lab activities and project based learning.

I wish i could say that I will commit to flipping instruction for every day, but because I teach so many different classes third through eighth grade and seventh grade geography, I just don’t think I can make the commitment.  However, I will do my best as I definitely see the benefit for the students.  Perhaps if I do one flipped lesson per grade, per week, I would be off to a good start.

A TED Review

I recently watched the TED Talk Education is Broken, and I could not agree more with what Chris Lehmann had said.  I love how he began his talk with the concept behind High School Stinks and continued with reasons why such as: you have to do what you’re told, continually asking yourself and your teachers about why you need to know the material, being pretested to find out and confirm everything you don’t know and what you are worst in.  *Tear*

Later on Lehmann discusses that schools should teach students how to learn, and how to open the minds of young individuals to ideas and critical thinking.  This is the direction that education is moving and I believe that teachers are jumping on board at a fast rate, however, there is some red tape that is preventing them from being able to forge ahead with 100% commitment.  As long as benchmark testing is required by state’s teachers hands are tied.  Sure teachers can incorporate projects and STEM initiated programs into the time that they have at the end of each unit before “the test” but it is simply not enough.  A turnaround in education is in order and testing has to go!  Assessment is possible through other means but as educators we have to show its importance and validity to our superiors- not an easy task.

The face of education has changed with education and schools and classrooms should no longer be thought of as “silo’s of information, but rather lenses to the world”, as previously stated by Chris Lehmann.  “School’s were initially built on a model of information scarcity, but we are now on information overload” a thought discussed by Lehmann to show the change that technology has brought to the education system.  Students used to have to go to school to find out information, but now students need to go to school to figure out how to use the information that is available at their fingertips with a click of the mouse or a touch of a screen.

STEM and Interdisciplinary programs have tried to accomplish this, but unfortunately, we are still in the early stages of an educational revolution.  Keep at it educators and get your school leader’s on board, #doit4thekids and #doit4thefuture.