EDCI 506 Week 15: Group Project Reflection

All of the 21st century schools designed by the groups in our class were all imaginative and showed the direction that we think education should be heading in – while still adhering to the necessary elements such as standardized testing and core standards (especially when it came to our ideas for funding the schools). All of our schools incorporated some of the more progressive education trends, such as having a more student-centered curriculum. Bringing in more community support and engagement was also a common theme in most of the designs, but we all went about it slightly different ways, whether by making students do internships in local businesses or just for additional financial support.

I think vocational schools are a great idea for student who aren’t necessarily college-bound, so I was very interested in the high school designed for that purpose. I know that the group talked a lot about funding through traditional means and also by having businesses come in and be involved, but I think that type of school would have more trouble getting all the money that would be needed for all the different programs. I know funding is a big issue for vocational programs now so maybe it would be harder to sell the idea of a vocation-only school. Although, if there are enough families who are interested in the school, then the county/state might see that there is a need.

I think most of the fundamentals of all of our schools were very similar, so I don’t think I would necessarily want to modify our school’s design. I would want to look more into different funding options that could come from the community, since our school is already meant to be an extension of the surrounding area. Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, and Vocke (2014) efforts to this can include “partnership or adopt-a-school programs in which a business, church, university, or other community institution…providing assistance such as tutors or lecturers, funds or equipment for vocational studies, computer education, or help in curriculum development” (p. 493). One of the groups even mentioned in their presentation about renting out the space to other groups, which I thought was a good idea.

I thought each group did a great job balancing the more traditional parts of education (the necessary evils) and making education more relevant and engaging to the students. I liked hearing all the different visions that groups had, while still sticking to the same core values. I hope to see some of our schools become reality in the future!

References

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., Gutek, G.L., & Vocke, D. E. (2014). Foundations of education. (12th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

INDT 501: Module Reflection 7

Now that we are nearing the end of the semester, I have to say that I believe it is the way technology is used in the classroom that has the biggest effect on student learning, not the quality of the technology itself. Before this course, I likely would have said that it was all about the technology tools – that as long as the resource was good, then any teacher could just take it, apply it to a lesson, and call it a day. But I do think that if I took one lesson from INDT 501, it is that using technology is more about thoughtfully crafting a lesson, and then integrating the technology in a responsible manner that will help further student engagement and achievement.

As I crafted my WebQuest, I experienced this firsthand. I really had to contemplate what tools I could use that would help my students understand my “big idea” and fulfill the SOLs that I had chosen to target. I wanted each resource to have a purpose, rather than just using technology for the sake of it. Also, I wanted to make sure that I incorporated both teacher-created resources (as required), but also build in a lot of student involvement with the online material. It took much more effort than I expected, honestly, which I guess proves my point that using technology wisely takes time! Technology wasn’t something I could fall back on for this activity, which I think can happen when someone isn’t used to incorporating these resources.

Like I said before, I believe that when teachers take the time and develop ways to utilize technology in ways that will really enhance the lessons, that is when it will be most effective in the classroom. It might take some trial and error to figure out what works for both the teacher and the students, which is the part that I think scares some educators away from new resources. I do think there is a lot of support available for teachers in this area though, so I would encourage people who are unfamiliar with educational technology to find a few tools that sound interesting, search for ideas from others who are using those tools, and then try it out in a lesson. If you can find the right resource for the material, it will greatly enhance the learning experiences and make them more engaging for students.

EDCI 506 Week 13: Curriculum and Instruction

curriculum pic

This week, we gained a little more insight into the different curriculum and instructional approaches that, as teachers, we will either employ or witness.

There are various ways that curriculum can be organized, but it is generally separated into two camps: subject-centered and student-centered. Made clear by the names, one focuses more on subject matter, where the other takes students’ individual interests into account. Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, and Vocke (2014) state that “most schooling in the United States falls somewhere between the two – keeping a tenuous balance between subject matter and student needs” (p. 430). Especially with the recent advent of standards, I feel that the majority of schools in the country are much more subject-centered. It is basically impossible for them not to be; if the standards dictate that certain subject areas must be covered and knowledge must be demonstrated in them by the students, schools will naturally gravitate toward a curriculum approach that exposes students to common, required course subjects. Critics dismiss the subject-centered curriculum as not being concerned enough with the students themselves, but I think that it is the instructional approach that matters more in this case. For example, if a teacher is in a school that focuses on a core curriculum or the traditional academic subjects, he or she can still employ differentiated instructional tactics to meet the needs of the students and to have them be active participants in the learning process (Ornstein, et al., 2014, p. 435).

One curriculum trend I found very interesting was that even though many people recognize the importance of physical fitness, “students are not participating in effective physical-education instruction” (Ornstein, et al., 2014, p. 447). We hear all the time about how our society is becoming more overweight/obese, but our students are not getting anywhere near the recommended amount of activity (the CDC recommends 60 minutes/day), whether at school or in their free time (CDC, 2014, para. 1). If we want to prepare our students for the “real world,” wouldn’t it make sense to teach them about how to stay healthy? Fitness also has added benefits for learning. Recent research showed that children who were more fit were able to acquire and retain new information better than the students who were out of shape (Reynolds, 2013, para. 1). I find this to be true for myself, I always feel more focused after a work-out. However, the extent of my physical education in schools, especially at the high school level, was minimal. We only had to complete two years of P.E. in high school, and multiple semesters were taken up by health classes and driver’s ed. The CDC (2014) backs up this new research, saying that regular fitness activity can improve student achievement, behavior, and concentration (para. 2). Schools are cutting P.E. to spend more time on the academic subjects, but including it seems like it would make the time spent in those classes more effective.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Physical activity and the health of young people. In Nutrition, physical activity, and obesity. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/physicalactivity/facts.htm.

Heatherstone Elementary. (n.d.). Elementary curriculum [Web photo]. Retrieved from http://schools.olatheschools.com/buildings/heatherstone/elementary-curriculum/.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., Gutek, G.L., & Vocke, D. E. (2014). Foundations of education. (12th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Reynolds, G. (2013, September 18). How physical fitness may promote school success. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/how-physical-fitness-may-promote-school-success/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0.

EDCI 506 Week 12: The Changing Purposes of American Education

This week’s reflection fits in well with the themes I have been discussing throughout this semester for INDT 501. I do think it is important that schools and teachers realize that the purpose of education has evolved from even what it was a few years ago. Current students, the digital natives, are used to any information they might need being at their fingerprints through technology and online tools. Schools are no longer the sole purveyors of knowledge. However, I don’t think this means that schools are unnecessary.

Instead, I do believe it means that teachers will need to work even harder to keep their teaching engaging and relevant to the students in our constantly changing society. There also has to be an acknowledgement at the whole school/district levels also that school can no longer just exist to teach the traditional curriculum. Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, and Vocke (2014) explain that old ideas about education resurface in more recent academic goals and standards (p. 416). I think we need to move on from this, because today’s world is so dramatically different than in the past – rather than focus on “essential” knowledge and curriculum, schools should concentrate on making sure the students know how to responsibly acquire and synthesize the information they can find from all the different resources.

Teachers now must act as facilitators and guides, so it is definitely a flip from previous classroom structures. This is where I feel like this week’s lesson intersects with my INDT 501 learning: I think it is a great idea for students to become the centers of the classroom, where they can decide what they would like to learn, but teachers are still the ones responsible for making sure they are benefitting from all the information they come across. Teachers need to update their instructional methods and utilize the resources that students are familiar with in order to make schools relevant. Also, by giving the students chances to work through the content in their own ways (with guidance), this will actually make them more ready for the real world, which is something the US is striving for.

I’m not sure if our country is quite ready to give up the traditional content, but I think it is time that we take a step forward and realize that our students are living in a much different world, and therefore have much different educational needs.

References

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., Gutek, G.L., & Vocke, D. E. (2014). Foundations of education. (12th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

INDT 501: Module Reflection 6

I had not given any thought before this class to distance learning. It wasn’t something I had ever partaken in, and I didn’t think I would ever be on the teaching side of a distance learning class. Now that I have been a student in a fully-online class, the subject interests me quite a bit more. I still prefer being in an in-person class environment, but I do understand the conveniences of the online classroom, and also how it fits in with the 21st century skillset. I also never would have thought it would be so popular; in 2010, more than four million K-12 students were involved in some sort of online learning environment, and in five states, online learning is a requirement that students must fulfill to graduate (Lepi, 2013, para. 3).

Even though I personally do not always enjoy online format for classes, I can see why it is being embedded into the K-12 curriculum. As Coffman (2013) explains, distance learning enhances desired 21st century skills, such as creativity, collaboration, and digital literacy (p. 168). I also think this type of learning appeals to students today, who are so adept with online resources and very engaged with what the web has to offer. I think the difficulty with distance learning stems from teachers who may be unfamiliar, or who just aren’t sure how to transfer the skills of communication and organization, and also the content materials to online instruction. In my opinion, teaching a class online might be more difficult than doing it in-person. Keller’s ARCS theory explains that maintaining curiosity and making information relevant are important factors for instruction, and this applies even more to distance learning (Coffman, 2013, p. 166). Since the students are interacting with the information on their own, the teacher must make it as engaging as possible while guiding them through the structure of the lesson from afar. As with most of what we have learned this semester, I probably need to become familiar with blended learning and how to be an effective teacher online, because all the data I saw pointed to even more of an increase in the next few years.

One of the most important lessons I got from this module’s materials was how even though there is so much that can be done with technology, it doesn’t take the place of the teacher and their planning for the lessons. Solomon and Schrum (2010) state that web-based tools are just another means to an end, and that teachers need to make sure it is actually helping students learn and achieve more (p. 167). I think this important for all teachers to remember: even though there is a push to incorporate all the tech tools and online resources, we must do so responsibly, so that it can be beneficial to the students.

References

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd Ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Lepi, K. (2013, September 22). The teacher’s quick guide to blended learning. Edudemic. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/blended-learning-guide/.

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: How-to for educators. International Society for Technology in Education.

EDCI 506 Week 11: EEO

In terms of providing equal education opportunities for all the varying student populations, teachers must find the right balance. In today’s classrooms, one teacher can have a group of students who have been identified as gifted, some who are in the ESOL program, a few with learning disabilities, and then don’t forget about the rest of the students who fall right in the middle. Making sure that each child is receiving the appropriate support takes planning, and requires the collaborative effort of the whole school.

All the groups of students I mentioned above will come to the classroom with obviously different academic needs that the teacher must meet. The challenge is in differentiating the instructional methods and lessons to give every student the opportunity to learn on their own level. Some schools have difficulties with this, especially with the emphasis on meeting standards on school achievement, as more focus in placed on the students who are around the proficient level, with less effort put into helping students who are low or high achievers (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, & Vocke, 2014, p. 378). If I put aside my own beliefs on this subject, I can see why some schools do this: it is hard to cater to everyone, so why not just teach to the middle and consider that good enough? Of course, that isn’t the right thing to do, it is just the easier path.

I think it is very important to make sure teachers are trained in strategies that benefit the students with any type of special needs. I do not have any knowledge about the best instructional methods for working with students with learning disabilities or who are in gifted and talented programs, so if I was teaching these populations, I would need to learn how to adapt my lessons very quickly. Unless adequate training is received, the teacher will not be able to give the right attention to any students, especially if there are students all over the achievement spectrum. However, if a teacher is able to provide gifted students with engaging and challenging material, then he or she can give more attention to students who need extra help understanding and completing the lessons. This seems to be a theme in my reflections, but getting to know your students is again very important as a teacher, because you learn what an individual needs in order to be successful.

As I mentioned before, I think that this diverse classroom situation calls for having a team of teachers working together to help all the students learn. For example, in the classrooms I have been in for my practicum assignment, an ESOL teacher comes in during classroom time to give extra attention to the English language learners with their reading and writing, so that the classroom teacher was able to have time to meet with a group of gifted students. In another situation, a special education teacher came into a second-grade classroom to assist with a math lesson, as this class contains a fairly high number of students with learning disabilities. As Ornstein, et al. (2014) mention, this can be used in addition to extra services or classes for students with exceptional needs, depending on the amount of special support that is required (p. 389). Teachers in different specialties can also collaborate when planning lessons to make sure that educational needs are being met and that each student is benefitting from what is going on in class.

References

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., Gutek, G.L., & Vocke, D. E. (2014). Foundations of education. (12th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

EDCI 506 Week 10: Social Class, Race, and School Achievement

The issues of socioeconomic status and race as they relate to school achievement are things that I am facing at this moment. My practicum placement for this semester is in an elementary school with student demographics that are majority non-White and low-income, with the extra pressures of having a large ELL population. As Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, and Vocke (2014) explain, children who come from these types of backgrounds, especially those from a lower social class, tend to have lower test scores than White or middle-class students, and are overall less successful in a school environment (p. 344). The worst part is that it seems that the reasons for the lower achievement come from the state of the schools that these children are attending, not any difference in academic ability. Even though there have been gains for students who fall into these categories, schools are still far from providing equal educational opportunities for all. The Department of Education recently released data showing that “racial minorities are more likely than white students…to have less access to rigorous math and science classes, and to be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience” (Rich, 2014, para. 1).

I know that the third-graders I am working with are lucky in some ways, because the school they attend is really trying to help them succeed, so that is one thing that isn’t working against them. It is worrisome, though, to think that they might not be getting the support and enrichment from their home life which is a common occurrence in lower-income households. Without this preparation from the home environment, students come to school less prepared to learn (Ornstein, et al., 2014, pg. 345). I hope that with the opportunities provided for them through the schools that the students are able to be academically successful, however, I think more has to be done to equalize schools before they can reduce the achievement gap.

Serendipitously for this week’s reflection, I had actually just read an article about tracking from Slate’s education section that I thought laid out many of my own opinions on the subject. I feel like here in the United States, getting through school and going to college is the only option that is considered worthwhile. However, just due to the inequality of the school systems, many students (especially those who come from low-income or minority families) are not prepared to succeed in school – and less than 10% of student who grew up in poverty graduate from a four year college (Petrilli, 2014, para. 4). Unless we as a country seriously overhaul the system to provide more educational equality, I don’t think having separate tracks for students is such a horrible idea.

Petrilli (2014) makes the argument that vocational schools and other alternatives to college provide another road to the middle class in which they are more likely to succeed, and that by not providing more funding and giving students the support they need to get into such programs, we are failing a large population of children who could benefit from this type of schooling (para. 9). I don’t think tracking is a good idea if it is just another program segregated by race or class; it should be open to anyone who does not feel like the traditional school route is right for them. Unfortunately, because of the unequal academic preparation that low SES and minority students receive, there might be a greater percentage of these students in alternative programs. However, having a skill and a job is a way into the middle class for some of these students, which means that their own children have a greater chance of going the college route, so there are still long-term benefits (Petrilli, 2014, para. 14).

Interestingly, while researching this subject, I found an article detailing how some states are offering more of these vocational tracks in critical response to the Common Core standards and the college readiness for all push, even if students are not interested in attending college (Simon, 2014, para. 3). Why should we force all students to achieve the same standards? Also, classes that provide a connection to the “real world” are desirable, and what could be more real world than a career track? Maybe equal does not mean teaching every student the exact same things, but instead providing each student with whatever program they need to be successful in their own way.

References

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., Gutek, G.L., & Vocke, D. E. (2014). Foundations of education. (12th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Petrilli, M.J. (2014, March 18). “Kid, I’m sorry, but you’re just not college material.” Slate. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2014/03/college_isn_t_for_everyone_let_s_stop_pretending_it_is.html.

Rich, M. (2014, March 21). School data find pattern of inequality along racial lines. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/21/us/school-data-finds-pattern-of-inequality-along-racial-lines.html?_r=0.

Simon, S. (2014, February 20). The school standards rebellion. Politico. Retrieved from http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/education-standards-reform-high-school-college-103510.html.

INDT 501: Module Reflection 5

Throughout this module, we were given the opportunity to look deeper into different resources that can provide students with digital learning experiences. From cellphones to video games, there are many different tools that teachers can utilize in order to engage students in the curriculum.

As cellphones have become more commonplace for students, teachers have found various strategies to integrate them into the classroom. A few examples are that they can be used for note-taking, assessments during lessons, and as a dictionary device (which would be especially useful in the ESOL field as students are working on their English language abilities) (Trotter, 2009, para. 9). Smartphones especially have opened up many opportunities for students to become instantly connected to information, and also to their peers, which can provide chances for communication and collaboration. Even though I think that there are many reasons to use cellphones in the learning process, I do believe that teachers need to keep a few things in mind. First, the teacher must structure their use, and ensure that the students are using their devices in a responsible, appropriate manner. Without guidelines, cellphones can easily become distractions. Also, even with the expanding use of mobile devices, there will still be some students in the class who do not have one. It would be irresponsible for a teacher to assign work using programs that not every student can access. Keeping these issues in mind, I think incorporating cellphones is intriguing, and hope to experiment with it more in the future.

Similar to the last module, we got to explore more tools that we can use to provide digital, interactive learning experiences in the classroom. I was very excited to use the timeline tool by Capzles, mostly because I love history and of course thought this tool would lend itself well to creating a more visual depiction of events. If you would like to see my timeline and read the summary of my experience, please visit my blog here. I think that if I was to use this tool in my future classroom, I would have the students be the ones to create timelines, rather than how I did it which was to just present the information in a different way. Coffman (2013) discusses how, ideally, technology should be student-driven, rather than just another way for a teacher to deliver content (p. 154). If creating a virtual timeline was a project for the students, I think that would be a better way to use the technology overall. Some of the other resources looked interesting also. Even though I do not have a specific content area I am entering, I tend to focus on history standards because that is what I am most knowledgeable about. Because of this, it was interesting to see how Google Earth could be used to give students a better idea of the settings in literature for an English class, just to show me a way to use technology in a subject area of which I am not so familiar.

Solomon and Schrum (2010) also discuss the use of virtual environments (Second Life) and Wikis as resources for students. I’m still unsure of whether I would use a program like Second Life with my students, but I thought it was interesting that they suggested using it to get in touch with other educators to network and share ideas (Solomon & Schrum, 2010, p. 121). I could see myself using Wikis more often, though. Since schools are starting to stress the collaboration between students, I can envision Wikis being used more for projects and assignments. Students are able to easily work together in all aspects from researching, writing, and editing, and they can do it separately rather than trying to find a time to all get together, which I always found difficult when doing group work while I was in school. Not only do students have the chance to learn from one another during this process, but Solomon and Schrum (2010) explain that teachers can easily track who is doing work, and what is going on during the process (p. 139). I liked this because collaborative projects without accountability always makes me worry that one student is slacking while the rest of the group has to do more. This way, I would be able to see exactly who is contributing to the effort.

References

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd Ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: How-to for educators. International Society for Technology in Education.

Trotter, A. (2009, January 7). Students turn their cellphones on for classroom lessons. Education Week, 10-11.

EDCI 506 Week 9: Culture, Socialization, and Education

This week’s reflection about culture and education hits very close to home because of my specific field of ESOL, but the diversity of most classrooms today make this an issue that every teacher must consider. I feel that the best way to become knowledgeable about my students is to get to know them and their specific backgrounds, which will help me to better understand any differences. This also isn’t limited to students who are new to the United States, although that is where most of my knowledge is based so that did influence the way I looked at this reflection.

Even as classrooms become more diverse, the teacher workforce has remained primarily white, female, and middle-class. Simply because of the different family cultures in which these two populations have been raised, there can be tensions due to conflicting values and beliefs. One big issue in classrooms is based on whether a family is either collectivist or individualist. These viewpoints emphasize a person as a part of a group (collectivism) or emphasizes the individual as an independent (individualism). Clayton (2003) explains that children in collectivistic cultures are not used to the more individualist practices of schools here in the U.S., so they may be hesitant or unsure of how to act (p. 32). This goes back again to getting to know your students, because if a student has been socialized in a way unlike the culture here, they will not thrive in education because it doesn’t make sense to them. I will need to help them with that transition.

Another important aspect of teachers coming from different cultural backgrounds from their students is that teachers must be careful not to let their experiences (and sometimes unconscious biases) dictate their classroom. Even though I think most of us are now comfortable with and accepting of our multi-cultural society, I think that everyone has moments when they make snap judgments based on appearances or general assumptions about someone’s background. I think that in the past, many teachers have viewed students according to cultural stereotypes, when obviously each student has qualities independent from their background and heritage. In one of my ESOL classes, we read an article about being a “culturally responsive” teacher, which outlines strategies such as being more conscious of cultural differences, about holding positive views of diversity, and then differentiating instructional tactics to meet the needs of the student (Villegas & Lucas, 2007, p. 31). I really think that only once teachers are willing to invest the time into getting to know their students as individuals, rather than viewing them as part of a cultural group, that is when a positive relationship can be established and the learning process will be more successful.

Gender roles also play a large part in education. Even though schools have come a long way in trying to make academics more equal, I’m sure that there are still many teachers and parents who hold beliefs about how boys and girls should act, which places expectations on children of each gender. To try and counteract these stereotypes, I will hold each gender to the same standards and try to broaden their experiences outside of what is considered typical (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, & Vocke, 2014, p. 325).

There are so many factors in society that will have an impact on my students. I hope that I can also make a difference in my students’ lives, even if it sometimes means I have to work against how they have been socialized previously, just to show them what is possible and what they are capable of doing.

References

Clayton, J.B. (2003). One classroom, many worlds: Teaching and learning in the cross-cultural classroom. Porstmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., Gutek, G.L., & Vocke, D. E. (2014). Foundations of education. (12th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Villegas, A.M, and Lucas, T. (2007). The culturally responsive teacher. Educational Leadership, 64(6), 28-33.

INDT 501: Module Reflection 4

As Solomon & Schrum (2010) remind us, as schools begin to shift focus to the 21st Century Skills, visual media literacy is one area in which students are expected to be proficient. This concept of literacy not only includes students’ ability to analyze images, but also requires students to be able to create their own visual tools to communicate (p. 102-103). The only problem with that is that I am not especially familiar with many visual learning tools (and if my students are expected to be able to utilize these tools, I probably should be well-versed in the resources as well). Luckily, this module has given me the opportunity to become acquainted with some of the available tools, and introduced me to the world beyond Powerpoint.

I found most of the tools very interesting, with many potential classroom uses. Also, many of the tools seemed more aligned with student interests and provided many opportunities for differentiation of instruction. Ultimately, I decided to create an avatar using the Voki program. If you would like to read more about the lesson I created and my experience with the tool, please visit my ePortfolio page here. I will be working in the ESOL field, and I thought that this could be very useful for students working on their English language skills, and overall this is probably how I would choose to use the tool. This could also be used with younger students just developing literacy skills in a very similar way. There are other ways for students to use avatars, though. For example, in a history class, I think it would be interesting for students to “become” a character, creating a presentation about a historical figure’s life. I liked that this application gets the students very involved, fusing content knowledge with students’ abilities to “research, brainstorm, organize, write, and edit a script that fulfills the needs of the assignment” (Solomon & Schrum, 2010, p. 225).

Two other tools that I didn’t delve as deep into but still thought would be beneficial in the classroom were Wordle and Comic Life. Analyzing text with word clouds seems fairly easy to implement into the classroom. One way I might use this tool is for pre-assessment when beginning a new lesson. I could have the students brainstorm and submit online what they know about a lesson topic, then create a word cloud based on their responses. This could be contrasted with post-lesson assessment as well; ask my students what they know now that the lesson is complete, and see how knowledge has progressed. Word clouds could also be used so that students can easily see the important words and themes of texts (Solomon & Schrum, 2010, p. 234). This ensures that students really grasp the meaning of documents, rather than just having students read them and hope for comprehension.

I think that comics are a fun and engaging way to get students to have deeper understanding about certain topics. I think this could be a fun substitute for a typical history report: instead, students can collaborate and create comic about a historical event. I wasn’t sure how to implement it into other academic areas, until seeing some examples of how students created comics to demonstrate how they worked through various math problems (http://www.sanjuan.edu/webpages/pribadeneira/view.cfm?subpage=68810).

Today’s classrooms are drastically different than what I experienced as a student. Students need tools, such as the ones I discussed above, that will interest them and provide them with ways to integrate their technological interests with what they are required to learn in school. Success will depend partly on how I as a teacher am able to tailor instructional methods and activities to the interests of my students. There are so many resources available, but it is my responsibility to learn how to use them in my future classrooms. Some of these resources I might be excited about but may not fit into my lessons…and that is fine! One quote I thought was especially relevant to this area was “there is a big difference [in effectiveness] between using technology to teach and the successful integration of technology into lesson plans” (Work, 2014, para. 9). That is one idea I will carry with me and keep in mind when I feel overwhelmed with all of the technology options. I look forward to trying out some of these tools and figuring out what really works for students, rather than trying to force everything into my teaching practice.

References

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: How-to for educators. International Society for Technology in Education.

Work, J. (2014, February 3). 5 tips to help teachers who struggle with technology. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/help-teachers-struggling-with-technology-josh-work.