Thursday, July 24, 2014

Really enjoyed today's challenge of making an iMovie.  I will definitely attempt this at home.

When asked about my local vision...I definitely see myself becoming an advocate for more technology in the school.  I now see a reason for it, whereas before it felt vague.  I also still am a neophyte and so whether I can be effective in using technology is the question to be answered.  I admit I kind of dreaded this class, but I ended up finding it super useful and interesting.  As one of my classmates said, it will be hard to go back to school and not sort of spew all this stuff at people.  I want to share, but I want to feel confident that I can explain what I am saying.  So I will start small, with people I trust, and see if anything snowballs.  For all I know there are already a bunch of techies doing their thing in their classrooms already.

I have invested more time into my final project than is evidenced in it's outcome, but I think the fact that time went quickly while working means I am on to something.  Driven by innovation and autonomy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I enjoyed the two videos and ensuing discussions that started the class.  They both felt energizing.  Then I appreciated a lot of the practical material we were presented with that will help us as teachers and leaders.  The simplicity of the websites and presentations was powerful to me.  I have always struggled with my urge to include too much in a visual, and knowing it ends up not looking pretty.  I am going to repeat that mantra of simplicity in my mind.  The visual element also ties back into the RSAnime videos we watched.  I really like the idea of having an artist capture what the teacher is saying, for example.  This year I will be teaching an 11th grade World History class, and I can almost envision the students at their desks, trying to sketch out the causes of WWI in this sort of fashion.  I think it would appeal to kids who don't always want to write in bullet points and paragraphs.  And, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and transforming words into drawings is a way of repeating the info and therefore learning it.  It would also force me as a teacher to not ramble too much, lest their pictures become unclear.

I also want to share some of these ideas about flipped professional development with my administration.  We were considering last year allocating weekly time for professional learning communities, and some teachers weren't sure what the focus would be or what it would like.  I like the idea of learning teams based on some learning goals that they have in common, and that include technology in the classroom, and are coached by and overseen by someone.  In other words, autonomy with coaching.  Instead of sit and get.  Teachers like to be independent but also many appreciate working with colleagues they trust.  If they can choose their group and their goals, then have that time, I think it could be a good thing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 2: EDAD 536

My brain is a little tired right now.  Between all of the wonderful apps that my classmates recommended earlier today, and then Doug's energized presentation on the world of possibilities with Google, I needed to go sit in my car for 15 minutes and unplug.  So as not to become overwhelmed and then turn off, I am going to sift through what I need and can use now, and put a pin in the rest for another time.  I just learned invaluable tools for helping not only my students but also my children.  I find myself as a parent disappointed that my kids are not being exposed to all of these great resources in their schools.  It really does take a few individuals to bring these programs and the grant money and resources to a school.  How can I do more?  So I guess I have a case of technology envy right now.  

The quote that kids will spend 10,000 hours on video games--the equivalent of the number of hours a pupil would attend school--echoes Malcolm Gladwell's claim that it takes 10,000 hours to master something--Bill Gates with a computer, for example, in his childhood.  So, how can I turn my son's 10,000 video game hours into something productive?  Or my daughter's TV watching?  How can I divert them, and my students, from the pull of recreational media and into educational media?  How can I make my classroom more exciting using technology, when I only have access to a computer lab once every week or two?  Who do I talk to in my school about requesting clickers, asking for permission to use cell phones as clickers, writing grants for more computers accessible to all?  In short, today was my day of being a little overwhelmed, but also very inspired. I feel like my own children's education is at stake, as well as the education of the hundreds of students I impact every year.

Now, on to exploring some of these programs.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Today was an eye-opening experience.  I came to the realization that when I have thought of technology in the past, I have seen it in terms of my own limitations rather than the possibilities of technology for my students.  In other words, as a classmate phrased it, I was ruled by fear rather than possibility.  I teach secondary Spanish and Social Studies in a block schedule, which means I have 1.5 hour classes.  For my 14-18 year olds, this is a long time to sit in one seat and listen to a teacher.  While I have thought that I have done a fair amount of scaffolding and differentiation, I believe I have still neglected to nurture the area that would perhaps be most appealing to my students.  Adolescents, as much as or more than adults of my generation, immediately become focused when a video or computer is in front of them.  They engage in a hands-on way that I only observe in a few students in the traditional lecture-based classroom. Even in a language class, where students are encouraged to talk in Spanish, share with a partner, etc., they often act restless and disengaged.  After watching today’s videos, hearing from other educators, I am thoroughly convinced that I need to better integrate technology into the classroom.  

While Ken Robinson’s TED talk was inspiring, Sugata Mitra’s talk was, for lack of a better word, irritating. I wanted to say, Well, googling something is not the same as learning it through a teacher.  Being able to look something up on a computer and regurgitate it is not proof of the depth that we look for in our students' learning.  On the other hand, the irritation I felt listening to Mitra perhaps came from the feeling that it hit a little too close to home.  As a teacher sometimes I feel like there is no point in my talking if only a minority of the audience is receiving it.  If kids are not invested, they will not learn.  In his computer-driven model, kids were excited and learning.  While I still feel the depth is lacking and the results are potentially misleading, I can see the wisdom in his approach and the message he is trying to illustrate.  We can have teaching going on in hard to reach populations, and it does not always require a teacher in person.  And in a fairly affluent community like the one I teach in, how do we create the same fertile soil that reaped the learning in the communities he highlighted, where kids are starved for this type of learning, and not jaded and disinterested as some of my students appear to be?  How can I become more of what he termed a mediator, and less of an instructor?  I presume the granny in the granny effect that he referred to (praising and encouraging while students seek their own answers) is the teacher.  In a sense this would lend itself to the flipped classroom which I am anxious to hear more about as well.  Give the kids the materials or place to find the content, let them study it, and then oversee their practice with our own guidance.
I am excited to learn more.