Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Transforming My Classroom--Integrating Technology

My last assignment for the course, Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society is to post a reflection of how this course affected my development as a teacher. In this course I learned many new ways to incorporate technology into my classroom and positively affect student achievement; plus it makes learning fun (not only for me but my students enjoy using technology).

This course has really helped me develop my technological skills. I would use technology in my classroom: word processing, Power points, and the Internet but I never would have dreamed about the learning potential of Web 2.0. Wikis and podcasts are now going to be part of my curriculum (the potential of wikis is amazing). Using Google Reader, I am kept up to date with the latest posts about integrating technology in the classroom. If there is something new and exciting, I know about it and can check it out and hopefully incorporate it. The sky is the limit!

The course challenged my technological abilities and expanded them. I am not afraid to do more collaborative projects and learn right along with my students. In our text Will Richardson wrote that these technologies are demanding that we reexamine the way we think about content and curriculum, and they are nurturing new, important shifts in how to best teach students (Richardson, 2008, p.131). As a teacher it is my job to prepare my students with the 21st century skills they will need to succeed. Therefore, I have set two long-term goals (within two years) to transform my classroom environment into a place where technology is integrated seamlessly to meet instructional goals and increase student achievement. My first goal is to create a wiki with my students for my social studies text. My social studies texts are pushing ten years old and with the wiki we could constantly update the content. Also, the wiki would allow my students to study anywhere they have Internet access (no need to bring home heavy textbooks). Finally, it will save my school district thousands of dollars and hopefully they will reinvest it into technology. My second goal is to give my students choices on how to complete projects using technology. For example, if I give a writing assignment, write Chapter 18 for the book "Number the Stars" by Louis Lowry, I will give my students choices on how to complete this. They can create a podcast, a wiki, a screencast, or any creative way using technology that accomplishes the lesson's objectives. This allows me to differentiate to meet my student's different learning styles and will excite my students about learning.

Technology is changing very rapidly and incorporating technology into the classroom gives my students the 21 century skills they will need when they enter the workforce. Providing my students with that opportunity and to see them succeed is not only enjoyable, but very exciting!

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Podcasting - No Problem!

I have just completed my week 5 application for the masters course I am taking through Walden University. I was quite skeptical at first if I could create a podcast but I have to admit using Audacity and LAME along with Podcastmachine is pretty simple. I just plugged in a microphone and went to work. Me and my students are looking forward to using podcasts and I will be starting a podcast in which my students lead the Pledge of Allegiance for morning announcements using a podcast sent via email to the principal's office. Although neither me nor my students sound that great, it was a lot of fun.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sample Podcast

My week #5 assignment for my class is to produce a podcast using Audacity and Podcastmachine. I have to interview three students about their exposure to technology and include them in my podcast. This is my test podcast.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a web site devoted to advancing 21st century skills into education. http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/

After looking at the site I was glad to see an educational vision that includes technology and wants to help school districts make changes to prepare students for the 21st Century workforce. The site included state initiatives and my home state, Wisconsin was present. I learned that Wisconsin has developed standards for technology that will help guide teachers to prepare students. It is not surprising that lack of funding is what is holding these standards from being more utilized and this surprised me. I ask myself this question why do we not invest more into education, especially the skills that will make the American workforce more competitive? If not, what are the consequences? I think the issue of preparing students with 21st Century skills has to become a priority and the information on this site is a great resource.

I think this site is just a starting point for educators. However, if this ideal picks up steam (which I think will), all educators are going to have to question themselves, am I providing my students with the necessary skills? Many educators are going to have learn technology and learn that they are going to have to learn from their student's technological skills. It is constructivism with teachers who are not the primary source of knowledge but learners too.

This ideal will not only benefit our students, but benefit our country's economy and hopefully allow America to continue to exist as a superpower. I hope my state and district embrace this site's ideas as soon as possible because my student's success depends upon it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

In my classroom

There are many reasons I would use a blog in my classroom. I am a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Reedsville Elementary School in Reedsville, WI and the use of blogs in education is very beneficial. The most important reason I see for blogging in the classroom is learning how to write in a context that will be used by my students their entire lives. It is true that the technology and blogs may evolve into bigger and better things but the blogging we are currently doing in sixth-grade will be a great foundation for my students. They will learn what is the appropriate way to use blogs and what is not. Many of my students who do not like writing using a pencil and paper prefer using blogs and this totally enhances the lessons because it reaches more students. It also forces students to critically think and represent themselves on a level that anyone can see. They are very careful when posting and this builds proofreading skills.

For a social studies lesson, I would pose open-ended questions about current events, such as health care reform, that force my students to take a side and defend their opinions. They would be given rubrics that would grade them on the following categories: content knowledge, length (at least one paragraph), rationale and supporting details, conventions (spelling, grammar, and punctuation), and participation (they would post one original response and respond to two of their peers posts. Before going to the computer lab, I might brainstorm some ideas on the whiteboard, citing some of the advantages and disadvantages of health care reform so my students have a starting point. Remember, we watch and discuss current events daily using CNN Student News and national health care has been a hot topic recently. My students are informed about this issue and the ability to blog will show everyone their knowledge.

Blogs banned -- Response

Author: Sue Waters
@Craig, that is a really hard one. I know some have written blogs posts and got edubloggers around the World to explain the benefits of blogging which have then been used to successfully allow blogging.

Is it a District policy or school policy? Would it help if we gave you links of good examples to show them?

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Blogs are banned at my school, Reedsville Elementary.

Unfortunately, the administration at my school not see that blogs are a great educational tool that my students use on a daily basis outside of school.

I think that my students would benefit from using blogs in school, not only educationally, but they would also learn acceptable ways to use blogs (under my supervision).

How can I get my school to change this policy? That is the question.