Monday, June 21, 2010

New National Technology Standards for Educators

Upon looking at the National Education Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Teachers I found, like many of today's educators, that I am already doing quite a few of these standards.  However, there are some that I most certainly am not doing.  Interestingly enough, the one's that I seem to resist doing are the one's that I struggle with mentally and not because of a lack of skill.  For example the following two sub sections of Standard three:

3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society. Teachers:

b. collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation
c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats

My struggle lies in trying to figure out how to add this to my list of things to do.  Most of the others center around utilizing technology within the content area.  These require me to add on to an already full workload.  While I completely agree that they are useful, I just can't imagine how I would find time to communicate in a variety of modes.  Right now we are required to call parents, not just email, parents if a student fall below a C-.  I also have used a weekly email format, which takes time when teaching 3 different classes a trimester.  Now adding on web pages, blogging, twittering, and/or a Facebook page (or another format) makes me wonder where I am getting this extra time.  While I know it only takes less than five minutes  to Twitter or Facebook this time adds up over the course of a trimester.  I feel that I have a mental block where this standard is concerned.  What I need to make this mental shift happen is for someone to show me how make this happen in a timely manner, without adding to my already full plate. 

The other standard that I am struggling with is to design and develop digital-age learning experiences.  Not because I don't want students to have the opportunity or because I lack the creativity or time, but because of the lack of computer availability that my students face.  During trimester two, I was hoping to have my multcultural literature classes create a wiki.  However, almost 75% of my students did not have access to a computer at home or the internet and finding open computer lab time on a weekly basis was extremely difficult, because of 10th grade research paper and other classes also needing computers.  Perhaps, I need to just write a grant and turn my classroom into a my own personal computer lab ... maybe that isn't such a bad idea.  I wouldn't have to have 35 computers, but five to ten would allow students to rotate stations of learning with their wiki and blogs as one of the stations ... I must ponder this more. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Building a Positive and Purposeful Digital Footprint

On Friday, I was a little shell shocked to find out all the ways that I leave a digital imprint without being entirely aware of the path I was leaving. Seeing as I had already Googled myself, I knew that I did not have a negative footprint. Heck, I even gave my research writing students a paper on how negative use of the internet and SNS (social networking sites) can impact their future. However, the one part I left out when teaching them or myself, is how a digital footprint can help them land that job or get into that university. So tonight I was looking at articles on building positive digital footprints.

The article Managing Your Digital Footprint discusses not only how to monitor your activities online by searching multiple search engines and using a variety of techniques (such as using one's address, phone number, email alias, etc) but also how to build a positive footsteps to help your career. This article suggests, building a professional web page, use forums such as to post information about yourself and your qualifications, post on industry web sites about your area of expertise, and practice discretion when blogging or posting on forums. The first three had never occurred to me. It almost makes formal resumes obsolete. I wonder how much longer companies will accept paper copies of a resume and job application. If these are the opportunities out there, students need to be made aware of this in high school in order to make sure they are given a level playing field. The last one, practicing discretion, however, is one that many people already practice before they send an email, yet seem to forget when posting on websites, blogs, and forums.

How to Build Your Digital Footprint in 8 Easy Steps was a blog I read that actually seemed a bit more practical. In his blog, Mitch Joel starts at the very beginning with having a strategy before foraying into the digital world. The next step talks about finding the right forum. The best forum is not always Facebook or Twitter. Joel talks about playing to your strengths. If your writing style is better as a blogger don't use Twitter. He also says that the channel you choose must match your strategy. Like the previous article, Joel suggests doing a digital dig into your personal digital footprint. The next step is to follow the leaders of your industry, whether it is a blog, podcast, video on youtube, etc. This should then be followed by adding your thoughts, your voice. This can be done by commenting on postings or as a contributor on industry sites. Step 6 should be to create your own platform for your voice in your own channel. The next step can be the most overwhelming ... stay aware. Keep up with the many different channels ... the old ones and the new ones. Lastly Joel states it is important to have fun.

Personally, I liked the 8 Easy Steps blog because it was more detailed for the novice. Besides how can you not like something that ends with "have fun". These are the tools we need to be teaching to high school students. While we can provide the dire warnings, it is crucial that we give them tools to build positive digital footprints that will open doors for them.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Building Swipe Cards, TiVo, Credit Cards, Star Trib Online ... Oh My

I started off looking up digital footprint through the high school's library (something tells me someone has a time stamp and my IP address saying what time I used the database ... but of course I wouldn't have thought of it had I not given up on the databases). However, I didn't think reading an article about the new crime sleuths using digital footprints to solve a murder was quite what I was supposed to be researching (don't worry I bookmarked it for perusal later ... what can I say it sounded fascinating). Alas I digress. So I went to the old standby, Google, in between carrying on a Facebook conversation with another teacher about a book. As I quickly scanned my options and the fourth one down the list caught my attention. While it isn't an article, it was an interactive activity that allowed you to examine how we leave digital footprints with our everyday activities. So of course I quickly clicked on it and was astounded. And here I thought, I was pretty aware of the ways we are tracked. I was wrong.

Koppel on Discovery: Your Digital Footprint did not talk about what we would find if we googled ourselves, but it showed the path we leave behind that allow others to track us (no wonder sleuths are using it to solve crimes). I estimate that by 6:15 a.m. on a school day, I have already begun to be tracked for the day. Interesting enough the first time I walked through the choices I only scored a 27, which is a moderate trail. It starts off with how you get your news, to how you get to work, to going through toll booths (ok we have a decided lack of tollbooths in MN, but then I thought about when I wait at a light. Some of the stop lights record traffic) to how I go into the school building (swipe my card of course, heaven forbid I take the long way to my classroom and get some exercise)to filling up with gas, going out to eat, watching TiVo, etc.

Of course then I thought about the 27 being moderate. To me that doesn't feel moderate at all, so what determines moderate and what exactly does moderate mean. Is it because one option I picked didn't allow someone to track my movements. The only reason I picked that is because none of the other options fit. I probably wouldn't have straightened my desk, but would have went online to find something for class, or created a worksheet, test, PowerPoint or some other lesson for class. (time stamped when I save it). I so knew that businesses asked for our phone numbers or zip codes to collect data, but to some extent, I never realized my role or how all this information was being collected about me. Or maybe I didn't care to know. The whole ignorance is bliss quote playing out.

My brain is on overload thinking about this so Part II will have to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts ...

My absolutely favorite way I have incorporated technology so far would have to be the wiki that my honors class has created. Their learning has grown so tremendously over the course of the year, and I feel it is directly linked to the fact that they can learn from each other and have a live audience. In addition, this site will be accessible to them a few years down the road when they take the AP test. On this site, they have basically created their own cliff notes, but they also have to answer a thread discussion post every week. This usually has to do with something we are learning in class. They then are able to demonstrate their learning or acquire more practice through the thread discussion. During trimester 3, they are doing podcasts and this will also be linked to their novel page.
What I would change about this project, is that I would not do blogs during trimester 2. Rather I would incorporate podcasting during trimester 2. I would also do a lot more with teaching them about my availabilty. For example, they will often instant message me on the wiki and ask questions. When they do this at 9 p.m. and I don't respond they are genuinely confounded. They are also perplexed if I don't check it on a nightly basis or at all times on the weekend. This trimester, I have been working on having them realize that I will try and check it by 7:30 p.m. on weeknights or by noon on Sundays but not again after these times.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

21st Century Learner

Up until 5 minutes ago, I didn't realize how my students feel at times ... overwhelmed, freaked-out, and not sure where to even start. I knew the role of the learner had changed, and I knew that my role as a teacher had changed as a result. I felt like I had taken steps towards helping my students to become 21st century learners, but yikes, I haven't even learned to get up on my knees and start scooting yet.

In the last few years my learning style has changed a lot. I am much more reliant on technology for my learning and less reliant on just a book or a professor. I noticed this in grad school, when I found it necessary to start digging more into the classes rather than being taught by my prof. Too many of my classes were centered on learning that the district had undertaken about 5 years ago, so I wasn't feeling challenged. While some weeks this was nice, especially when I had a lot of essays to grade, other weeks it was frustrating and boring. In order to stave off the boredom and questioning of why I was spending my money ... ahhhh yes, the pay raise--so nice ... I found that I began doing more learning online. In addition, nearly all of my resources from my thesis was acquired using technology. Lastly, I also have turned more to blogs by other English teachers to see what others are doing to make it more interesting for students.

However, now I see it is just the tip of the iceberg, if that. I have always told students that they can't take me to college with them (although I suppose via email or blog, they can now), so they need to use the resources I am giving them. Those resources have changed, and it boggles how much. I am not even sure where to begin to give them the tools they need. It is definately a case of, "I don't even know what I don't know".

Lesson Using Technology Analysis

What has been your most successful lesson where you have integrated technology so far? What made it successful? How would you modify it for the next time you use it?What are some other ways you are planning on integrating technology this ye

My most successful lesson so far where I have integrated technology would either have to be the independent novel lesson or my Pre-Writing lesson. In the independent novel lesson, my 3rd hour class would learn a concept about setting, character, theme, or plot in class. We would practice using stories we read together. Then they would demonstrate their learning on their novel through discussion threads on the class wiki. I really loved reading their responses, to each other and watching them take their learning to a new level. By having a wider audience they were able to learn more about their own thinking process, and it showed up in their responses as the trimester progressed. The Pre-writing lesson was excellent because it allowed me to model in front of the kids, using my SMARTBOARD. We were able to make changes, move parts, show how one step connects to the next step.

What I would change for next year with the use of the wiki, is that I would implement it in all my classes, because having a larger audience really helped guide their thinking and writing. I may still try this for our T3 novel. The pre-writing lesson, worked really well and I don't think I would change it, because I continued to tweek it as I went, so that by my last hour it worked really well.

Some ways that I am implementing technology yet this year is that all students will become familiar with using databases for research, I am introducing at least one more class to using a wiki, and in my 3rd hour class they will be podcasting.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Favorite SMARTBOARD Lesson

Depending on when you ask me about my favorite SMARTBOARD lesson, my answer will change. Each time I try and new lesson and gain more experience I seem to like that lesson. Therefore, I suppose my favorite lesson to this point has to be my Writing Workshop lesson step 4. Step 4 in pre-writing asks the writer to create a web diagram. It was great because it was interactive and allows the student to enter their information, make changes, and be able to hide parts of the diagram as they make their decisions about what to take on to the next step.