Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century

This PBS Documentary explores different options of digital media in classrooms across the United States and how it can help their students grow in a constantly changing society. This hour long documentary is worth any educator’s time and effort. Each of these five sites are unique and demonstrate what we can do to adapt to the changes in the environment. With the constant use of teaching, tweeting, Facebook, and gaming, leaners of today are surrounded by technology that aids them in their day to day interactions. We need to take charge in order to entertain students

The first site we are introduced to is Quest to Learn based in New York, New York. This entire facility is technology based and is focused on the principle of game design. Their goal is to promote thinking and thought in order to engage students in lifelong learning. They model this facility after a video game since students have to break a complex process into smaller pieces to win in the end. I really like the idea of this technology based instruction since students can really take control of their learning and incorporate valuable skills into this nontraditional curriculum. The resources they have are plentiful and allow for complete engagement of the students. This video demonstrates a way to incorporate technology in the classroom while also following curricular goals.

Then we are introduced to Digital Youth Network which is based in Chicago, Illinois! This program is meant for student to pursue their passion and help keep them out of trouble. One of the main goals is to have an “equal platform for all to become digitally literate.” I love the idea of this program since not all students have access to means of technology outside or even in the classroom. Having this after school program can help students gain valuable skills as well as make a difference in the community. It is important that students can really find a path they like which is in addition to the curriculum in schools they are learning. For more information, their website is very helpful and use-friendly. I also found a blog on WordPress that has a technology Tuesday which can be important for teachers to explore: This link takes you to the blog.

The third program is at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. The goal of this program is to create a scavenger hunt so students can be more engaged in a museum. What’s important to remember is the culture of museums may not be what kids are looking for these days, so by incorporating technology into learning history lessons, there can be more engagement. Students are still learning content skills by exploring in a meaningful way. What I found most important about this site is the collaboration in peer based learning. If students are working together, they are teaching as well as monitoring the information they have learned. I am a huge advocate of that for students, especially for growth in different areas.

What is unique about the next site, Middleton based in Wisconsin, is the collaboration with the community in conjunction with the classroom. Students are following a GPS to engage in place-based learning. This type of learning is extremely interactive and allows students to focus on many areas, not just the history of the town. They can gain professional development by speaking to the board of the town hall as well as social skills by interviewing residents of the community. Since so much learning takes place outside of the classroom, it is important to be aware of how to engage students in those interactions as well as foster different types of learning environments. This is a really cool way to bring together multiple subjects and create a new project for students.

Last but not least is the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At this environment, these are different types of projects for students to participate in in the hopes of becoming lifelong learners. What is mentioned in this video is very important and that is how classrooms are still based on a 1920s society, resembling the assembly line. Students participate in class for eight hours each day going through a typical classroom environment. This needs to change due to the changes in our own society over the past 90 years. The curriculum at this academy is really leaned towards the stem fields with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. Their slogan of “learn, create, lead” is embodied in the everyday attention they give their students and the collaboration they are creating.

What resonated with me the most was what John Seely Brown said at the end, and that is embracing change. It is so important to recognize that we as educators need to prepare students for the 21st century and jobs that are not occurring yet. We cannot stick with the old system of a classroom and expect students to feel engaged when there are constant distractions around them. By embracing the use of technology in the curriculum, we can improve the lives of students and do our best to prepare them for what’s to come.

Since I personally want to work at an elementary school with students with autism, I can envision some of the technology I want to have in my classroom. I would love to have iPads as apps for students to improve different skills and to engage them. Computers are a must for differentiated instruction and working with the Universal Design of Learning in order to meet each students’ needs. I love the idea of exploring the community and the different options there are of engagement for students. I think practical skills also need to be taught to these students in alignment with the general education curriculum. I am exited to see the changes in the future, and to be able to adapt to accommodate all my students.


Twitterverse Time!

With a world constantly shaped by technology, what can educators do to make their classroom more engaging and beneficial for students in the classroom?

This first article really goes in depth about the powerful resources that classrooms now have. Not only are teachers there to facilitate the learning of student and engage them to become lifelong learners, but the internet is constantly around for students to explore more information and gain valuable insight. Technology is so influential since before the boom of this rapidly growing age, the textbook and the teacher were the only two resources in the room. Teachers roles are changing due to the technology that is used on a daily basis. If students are allowed to use phones, iPads, and computers at home, why not utilize those in the classroom? The debate stems from how teachers’ roles are changing and what they can do to better interact with students and allow for beneficial learning. The good news is, we can create “student-centered” classrooms and allow teachers to take a step back and allow students to take control of their own learning. This is important for educators to read in order to allow them to understand how to incorporate technology in their classroom and what today’s learners will benefit from.

This article discusses how to build a type of “technology fluency” in students to help them become digital learners and constantly keep up with the changes in education. While fluency is important for reading which includes “speed, accuracy easy. and comprehension,” what does that look like in technology? Students need to be competent in areas that are continuously changing from the traditional “classroom” setting of using textbooks and being lectured to by teachers. In this world, technology fluency is built off of different principles related to making meaning of sources on the internet. By flipping the classroom, using scaffolding, and empowering student leaders, we are continuing to teach them how to become digital citizens and adapt to the constant changes in the world. This is beneficial for educators to see how they can adapt their classroom model and curriculum to align with the changes in society.

This final article is really beneficial for educators in many ways in order to improve their methods of teaching and how to reach today’s learners. The 33 techniques that are talked about in this article really can relate to the Universal Design of Learning and finding instruction for everyone based on their unique needs. This also goes in according with the article Passport to Digital Citizenship since these methods really are changing the way we think about education. These 33 techniques can follow along with the nine elements of digital citizenship. For example, electronic exchange of information can be taught to students by using the technique of identifying resources for safe browsing. It is important for teachers to be advocates for their students and constantly updated about the changes that are occurring to better engage their students and create the adaptability they will need for a constantly changing world.

Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

Grandin begins this talk with the discussion of autism and describing each end of the spectrum, as well as discussing individuals in history who would be labeled on the spectrum. She then goes into a discussion of thinking in a different way – just as individuals with autism think in different ways on their unique minds. Just as individuals think in different ways, Temple thought of things in objects or pictures, comparing it to “google for pictures.” Visual thinking has lead to a lot of Grandin’s accomplishments and designing different types of animal facilities.

She talks about how in third or fourth grade, we can find out what kind of thinker a child is. A child with autism has a special kind of mind – they are each unique. There are three types of thinkers: pattern or abstract thinkers, photo-realistic visual thinkers, and verbal or mind thinkers. Each of these types of thinking is unique to all individuals and they each have their own strengths. For example, visual thinking is sensory based, and that individual thinks in sounds and smells. Since this is what Temple is, it has helper her with her career with animals since a visual thinker puts sensory based info into categories.

Grandin then discusses her own experiences in school and having a teacher who made her think and want to learn. This really speaks to me since I am primarily interested in working with students with autism, especially at the elementary level. It is important to show kids interesting videos, articles, and resources to engage them and keep them learning in school. There are geeky, nerdy kids in the world who need things to look at and make them think constantly. There is some talk about how people with autism have extra writing in their brain that makes them curious and continue to evolve their thoughts. In regards to these comments, the article Technology Integration Frameworks for the K-12 Curriculum really aligns with this. By continuously utilizing technology in the classroom, we can engage students and show them interesting things that they may not find out themselves without the support of an instructor. It is good to be curious and wanting to know more, and by utilizing the constantly changing resources we have, there is so much potential for what we can teach to students today, that wouldn’t be possible without the advances in technology.

What really hits home in this discussion is that we NEED all these different types of minds, especially for different jobs. Temple struggled with this in learning how to do something else, other than drawing horses early on in her education. Without the support from her science teacher when she was finally engaged, she wouldn’t have accomplished all that she has. With a constantly growing and changing world, we need to adapt the curriculum to allow students to be successful and working hard in school to go on and have productive work life. This resource on teacherspayteachers is a good place to start in regards to working towards the needs of a student in the Universal Design of Learning.

Kids with autism have minds that are fixed. We as educators need to work towards those fixations in students to motivate that student. This may mean drawing out dogs in a math problem if students are particularly interested in animals. This aligns directly with the Universal Design for learning which is really a tool to create equal opportunity for all student to learn. As educators, we can be mentors for students that have unique minds to be successful. Work towards those strengths and unique abilities in each student to improve them for a job and prepare them for what the future with hold. Especially in regards to autism, we need to prepare these students to be innovative thinkers who always have a task to complete. On Temple Grandin’s website, this page really spoke to me. It discusses different ways to implement environment enriching activities to students with autism to help reduce different symptoms. By catering to the needs of unique individuals, we will not only make them successful in the classroom but in social and contextual settings as well. This is just one example of how to engage students with autism.

What is Learning?

This video shows a little bit of the learning that goes on everyday in my life. Whether it be formally or informally, learning takes place everywhere at every moment on campus. These short clips demonstrate the different facades of learning.

Do Teachers Need Real Feedback?

This TED Talk gives great insight about getting feedback, and improving over time through practice. Bill Gates discusses how teachers are the ones who need the most important feedback to help them improve their practices. A surprising statistic to me was that until recently, 98% teachers got one word of feedback, satisfactory. That is not a complete evaluation of someone’s effectiveness as an educator, nor fair to the students who receive any type of education.

The US is currently ranked fifteenth for reading proficiency. Eleven out of fourteen countries ranked for reading have feedback for teachers about reading proficiency, but in the US we are failing to give teachers skills they need to improve their practices. In China, younger teachers watch older teachers talk, and they require them to observe and give feedback. I definitely agree with this system. I think having a “coach” or “mentor” should be a staple for all school districts. Teaching is not an easy profession, and by having others mentor you to help with professional growth seems like an ideal system. No one is perfect at their job, but by continuing to give the support that new educators need, we can better our own education system.

In order to get measures of effective teaching, there are observers who watch teachers in the classroom and how they engage with students – challenging questions, multiple explanations, surveys for students – teachers who did well had better student outcomes. Teachers also said the videos and surveys were helpful for them. A teacher can learn a lot from a video and help grow in the profession. Being able to observe yourself allows you to be conscious of how you are teaching, and reflect on your own methods. I personally think this would help me along as I can see what works and does’t work in a classroom. The most effective way to become a better educator is by continuously practicing and trying new things. By taping yourself, you are also getting feedback from others in the profession who may be veterans at what they do or think in a different manner. This article discusses the ideas of effective teaching and learning in a classroom environment.

In my opinion, building a complete teacher feedback improvement system is such a beneficial idea for the school system in general. Even though teachers may not be comfortable with a camera in the classroom as Bill mentioned, it is still such a valid idea. With time, this system could grow. With the current edTPA in order for lisencure, they can become more comfortable with a camera and practicing how to monitor themselves. Click to learn more about the edTPA here.

While this system requires an investment that many may not be willing to make, it is “less than 2% we spend on teacher salaries every year.” This investment would have an important benefit for the country by make sure that all students get a great education and have a chance to fulfill their dreams in life. This would help make the United States a more fair and just country in comparison to other leaders in education, and allow the students of the future survival in other places of the world.

Teachers deserve feedback and response to their methods, and I think Bill Gates has such an important point. While this scares me a little bit, I think that’s okay. As a future educator, I am open to feedback and challenges to improve my methods over time. As we talked about in class this week, we will be teaching a new generation of students for jobs that don’t even exist yet. The International Society for Technology in Education describes the standards for teachers, and one of them is to engage in professional growth and leadership. The idea of teachers getting real feedback perfectly aligns with this standard. By continuing to foster professional growth in the education system, we are looking towards a fulfilling education that all students deserve. A complete list of standards can be found by clicking on this link.

By creating a modern and up to date system for evaluating teachers, we are furthering the growth of the education field and leaning towards a world constantly shaped by technology. The reading for this week focused on the Universal Design of Learning and fostering each individuals’ needs. If we have a modern system using technology to give feedback to all educators, we are giving the students the best type of education they can get. Using technology to help students who need certain supports is helping to advance their education and allow them to be the best learners they can be. This link further talks about Gates’ plan to fund the process of videotaping teachers to gain valuable feedback.

While this plan of “effective feedback” greatly impacts m future as an educator, I think it does in the most beneficial way possible. When I go into this field, I want to know that the support is there to benefit myself and my students day by day. If that means more licensure or continuing my process to become certified, I will do that so I can continue my passion of teaching students with disabilities. I don’t think this should draw anyone away from the profession, but rather excite them for what’s to come in the future.