Sunday, February 2, 2014

Reflection: Technology 101

Whereas the Introduction to Blended and Online Learning course gave me a lot of tools to use in the classroom, Technology Integration 101 has been the perfect course for me to take my first year as technology integration specialist.  This course has provided many eye-opening articles and discussions that have given me valuable information to take back to my corporation.

The Special Circumstances module gave me the opportunity to look at the challenges that substitute teachers face in our 1:1 settings and guided me toward creating an informative handout to put in our substitute teacher folders.  I will also be sure to continue the discussion with elementary teachers this spring as they prepare to go 1:1 next year.

I was also excited to be exposed to the Technology Integration Matrix rubrics.  These couldn't have come at a better time!  Between the discussions that I am continuously having with principals as they try to find a way to voice their expectations to teachers and the continued focus on RISE and teacher evaluations, these rubrics spell out clearly what true technology integration looks like.  If we are going to expect teachers to do it, we have to be able to tell them what "it" is exactly.  These rubrics will definitely come in handy during those discussions.

Finally, the project focus on Stakeholders is a very authentic assessment idea.  Although I am struggling with what I want that final project to be exactly, it is the perfect assignment to help me put what I've learned together and use it to bring others on board.

Once again, I feel like this course has helped me shape my own philosophy of technology integration and given me the tools to guide others toward defining their own philosophy.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Making a Shift

        Students are so used to us giving them step-by-step instructions for everything we have them do, that they don't know how to act when they are given a little educational freedom.  When we are having conversations at home and someone doesn't know the answer to something, one of my kids will immediately pull out an iPad, Touch, or iPhone and Google it.  I can almost guarantee you, however, that in the classroom those same kids will sit there and wait to be told.  Why? Because that's what they've been taught to do.  My kids typically don't get into trouble at school for doing something that they aren't supposed to do, because they are rule followers.  And so far, the rule has been that you wait to learn something when the teacher tells you it's time to learn...and you learn it in the way that the teacher guides you to learn it.  

        Taking a traditional classroom and turning it into a student-centered one is not going to be an overnight process for the students or the teachers.  Just as kids are trained to wait for the teacher's instructions, teachers feel that they always have to instruct.  I'm not sure what the overall answer is, but using baby steps, teachers have to learn to loosen the reins, and kids have to learn to grab hold of them.  Maybe we should begin by assigning one open-ended project a nine weeks.  This project might have a general question attached to it, but the final product will be determined by the student.  Maybe we daily/weekly pose some type of question and challenge kids to find a fact to support their answer on the internet.  Maybe we give kids an argument, and they have to find one piece of reliable information to support their own point of view...then find a piece to support the opposing side.  These activities aren't totally student-centered, but in order to get kids to automatically look for their own answers using technology, we have to first encourage them to use it for something besides an electronic worksheet.