I am presently attending online classes at Grand Canyon University to earn my Master’s in Educational Technology and I am very excited about the way it is already getting me thinking. It was just what I had hoped for in bringing back some of my passion for teaching had been killed due to the drastic cuts in funding for education. The following is one of the discussion questions I had to reply to and my response. If you are interested in the link I am referring to, it can be found on the right side of this page under “Graduate Studies.”
“Based on the Standards for 21st-Century Learners, how prepared are students for using technology in their daily lives after leaving your classroom? What improvements might you make in your curriculum? Provide specific examples.”
First off I was quite impressed with the depth and detail contained in this brochure by the American Association of School Librarians. I don’t think I have viewed libraries in the way outlined in the brochure and that is an error on my part. I do believe that my impression of the libraries I have access to is that they are (like my school) limited in what they can serve the community due to funding. There is ONE library in the city in which I teach that is anything at all like what the brochure describes, but that is because it is a relatively recent addition to the city having opened in April 2008.
As to the discussion question, I feel like a broken record at times as I consider my response to this, but being that is a new class I will reiterate. My students were much more prepared for using technology in their daily lives after leaving my classroom about 4 or 5 years ago when my school had the funds to expose them to those technologies. Technology needs replacing and updating, and with all of the reductions in education, my school did not and continues to not have the funds to buy new technology for the students to interact with. As technology slowly shriveled I took it upon myself to do what I could to continue to expose my students to current technology. I am a lover of technology and while I am not one of those that will run out and buy every latest gadget, I do invest in those that I feel will serve me in some way in both a personal and professional way. This was the case when the iPad first came out. My family invested right off and I looked for ways to bring this to my classroom. I bring my iPad to school every day and have not only taught with it, but have had students create with it. Granted, 32 third graders and ONE iPad is a bit of a challenge, but at least I was exposing them in some small way to what possibilities there are. I share applications with my students and they are always surprised that they too can have the application I am using. I often have parents asking me about applications and referencing their child telling them about me using it in class. I love when that happens!
Just the other day I asked my students how many knew how to use a touchscreen…whether it be a tablet or otherwise and every hand went up…32 hands! That wasn’t the case a few years ago. I recall I had students who had no idea how to interact with a tablet and I was amazed at how quickly things change.
After years of being disappointed and frustrated at the technology situation at my school, I have noticed more and more families have access to the technology I would like to use in my classroom. While my district has not embraced the BYOD (bring your own device) notion, I am working on doing it my way in creating an online tech club. Essentially I will use my class website, Discovery Education and Edmodo to create assignments that enhance the curriculum that students can do at home with the technology they have access too, and with the aid of their parents. I of course would be accessible for help as well.
As to a specific example, March is Women’s History Month. I would expose my students to text and video to build and enhance their knowledge on the subject. I would then build an assignment within Discovery Education where students use the Board Builder feature (much like Glogster) to meet the following common core standards:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Students would share their completed “boards” with one another as well as present them to the class as well as other audiences.
Discovery Education: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/
Womens History Month: http://womenshistorymonth.gov/
I will be developing this idea along with the structure of Dorothy Grant’s Online Tech Club, so stay tuned!
~ Mrs. Ruiz