Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Keeping it artificial for over 100 Years!

Hi everyone,

Just read the article from 1898.  I am struck by the question "what is more artificial than the usual language work in school?".  How unfortunate that 113 years later we continue to promote schooling experiences that are contrived, inauthentic and reduce learning to trivial, disconnected parts!

Technology has the potential to make learning more whole by combining viewing, listening, reading, writing and creating.  It is a path to student engagement.  I am convinced that it may be the only way to keep youth actively engaged in schools and in the continuous dialogue that is learning.

This class has opened my eyes to so many possibilities - thanks to Todd and all of you.  How fortunate to have been able to hear your creative ideas and technology applications.  I can't wait until summer when I can begin to focus on actually carrying out the nuts and bolts of my project so that in the fall I can work with staff to more fully integrate technology into instruction at West - at least starting with those 5th graders!

I want to minimize "...time wasted in mathematics in simply ciphering unreal problems..." and in all content areas. The opportunities of the web, simulations, YouTube, blogs, animation programs, video creations, etc. are endless and they represent a huge untapped resource to bring students actively into the classroom to develop their creativity, problem solving and cooperative strategies.

I'm feeling pretty excited - even at 4:15 am.....

Sorry to miss you all tonight - I'll be on a plane to Argentina during class and will not be able to connect.  Hope to be able to continue this discussion on some level.  Enjoy your spring!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Technology Humor

Hello everyone,

I've included a link her to bring a bit of humor to your day.  It is a bit racy - those Brits you know :-).
But I just could not resist after the conversation we had near the end of class on Saturday.

Have a great class!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Frenetic Pace....

I find that this class has truly sparked my interest in exploring the possible applications of technology with teachers, students and my community.  It has been difficult for me to land on a project because I have so many exciting ideas frenetically bouncing around in my head - in addition to the crazy daily stuff :-).  I feel that the most productive thing I can do is start a list of projects to explore further in summer when time is less structured and I can play with technology and develop some ideas about how to encourage it's use more consistently in my building.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Technology Comfort Zone Survey

First try creating a form.
Please let me know what you think by giving it a try!
Just click on the link below.

It's a survey!

Communities of Children Learning with Technology

The TED podcast by Sugata Mitra on the topic of access to technology in rural, semi-rural and urban slum areas in India was thought provoking.

What struck me the most was the social nature of the children's interactions with technology.  It appeared that a great deal of the learning was not only based on natural trial and error and general experimentation with the medium but also group negotiation.  The dialogue (advice, encouragement, verbal instruction and correction, etc.) that occurred between children of all ages seemed to play a pivotal role in the learning.

As I reflect on this I believe it has a direct application to my own work.  Parents and teachers often see technology use by students as a solitary activity.  However, just as many computer games have become social in nature, being played on the internet in real time with known or unknown gamers or together with a friend in the same room, the technology we use for instruction and to demonstrate learning could be used the same way.  The potential for peer instruction, exploration and support of both the technology itself and the topic being taught or presented is tremendous.

With appropriate guidelines and models from teachers, technology can support the development of social interactions and productive, positive relationships between students.  Group projects could ascend to a much higher level, in terms of student engagement and product quality.  An ambitious goal but an attainable one, in my opinion.

Taking on Technology

My personal goals for technology, as an educational leader, are many.  I am mostly interested in learning to become more comfortable and automatic with technology so I can model this for my staff by integrating it in my work and communicaitons with them.  Ultimately, I want teachers and all staff at my school to use technology as a tool to maximize student engagement and assist students in becoming informed consumers of technology as well as creators of content. 

The specifics are too many to list but I am interested in:

    * helping teachers identify reliable and high interest websites that have content supporting standards
    * using flip cameras to capture learning events, instructional strategies and student interests
    * exploring potential of google docs for efficiency of work and communication
    * embedding links to visual and audio content in my communications
    * increasing comfort level with technology for all staff
    * empowering students to use what they know about technology to energize their own learning

A solid vision for technology

My district, GBSD, created a comprehensive tech plan in 2006 and updated it in 2009.  It's scope is impressive.  It includes goals in the areas of accessibility, productivity and integration.  Unfortunately, budget cuts have derailed some of the best intentions.  We have reduced technology staffing as well as a slower rate of technology acquisition and updating.  In my opinion, the goals were and continue to be visionary both in their scope and intention.

My interest is in the use of technology for instruction and in this area some of the tech plan highlights are the recognition that,

"If teachers are to maintain a high degree of effectiveness in the classroom, they require a high degree of technology literacy in order to deal with rapid changes in information and communication technologies."

And the focus on equitable access for ALL students,

"...the district realizes that students who do not have access to technology in their homes, because of poverty or other inequity, are at an increasing disadvantage in school and eventually in the workforce. While addressing the technology needs of high poverty students while they are outside of school is difficult, we must ensure that they get adequate access to technology while at school. Inequity within school environments has a particularly deleterious effect when those inequities exist at schools that are already struggling with high poverty. In this situation, students are doubly in jeopardy; first, they do not have resources at home to enrich their learning opportunities, secondly, they can not catch up because they have fewer opportunities for access at school."

The plan also address detailed action steps including the use of Thin Client to maximize efficiency and minimize cost as well as specific strategies for the format of staff development.

I know the plan is currently being revised and hope that the general goals continue to be pursued and that funding is allocated to support them.....well, one can always hope :-).