Week 7

Technology is everywhere - there is no escaping it at this point. As teachers, we should embrace the digital frontier as much as possible, and we should try to incorporate tools and platforms in our classroom that promote collaboration, research, and connectivity. Not only are there resources that make our jobs easier, but we should also be preparing our students to use technology to their advantage in their adult lives. Social media is great, but if you still can’t write a resume then we have some issues. Technology has a lot of advantages to offer in the classroom, including personalized learning, automated assessments, and discussion / collaboration opportunities.

Barbara Moss outlines some useful computer resources and teaching programs that can automate assessments, embed videos and questionnaires, and most importantly, automatically grade assessments. I use technology platforms relatively frequently in my classroom. All of my classes have a Google classroom, where they can find class resources, assignments, and discussion posted. Sometimes I will assign a class discussion post, where students will have a question prompt and each student will leave a comment, responding to the previous person’s response. This is a great way to almost force students into a conversation and share ideas, which they can then bring back to the classroom to comment on. I also love using science PHeT simulations in class as an exploratory inquiry activity.

One of the best things about technology in the classroom is automated assessments and grading, in my opinion. “While we admire the use of mobile technology to invite audience participation, and we appreciate the idea of manipulating data in an interactive graph, we despair when the audience input fails to guide the conversation” (Hicks & Turner, p. 61). Formative assessments are essential to check for student understanding. Technology provides easy means to assess students quickly and generate useable data. It is critical that we use this information to guide our practice. I like to assess my students with Google Forms, where I can generate a graded response easily and can check student understanding of specific learning standards. I use this information to segregate students into different groups for the next learning activity - I will either have a guided remediation reteach or will provide different levels of worksheets based on responses to a formative assessment. This gives me practice in anticipating misunderstandings and meeting students at their individual levels. “Rethinking assessment practices and structuring learning experiences to include regular feedback on one or two elements of performance at a time, and/or that make space for regular and ongoing peer feedback and mentoring is a relatively do- able step for teachers wanting to make the most of new literacies in their classrooms” (Knobel & Lankshear p. 101).

The internet is an amazing resource that gives students nearly unlimited access to research resources and information. This makes research projects and performance tasks a more diverse and exciting endeavor with more possibilities. “But if we are only asking students questions or assigning them tasks that can be accomplished through a simple search (and a copy/paste answer), then we are not asking them to think critically or to use digital tools in substantive ways” (Hicks & Turner, p. 61). The unlimited wealth of information is a double-edged sword, and we need to do our best to ensure authenticity from our students. We need to be sure that the questions we ask our students to answer require a synthesis of original and personal thought - that cannot simply be pulled from the internet.

Not only does technology enhance the learning experience for students through direct interaction, but it also provides teachers will more collaboration and resource sharing as well, which enhances the classroom experience even more. “Open Education Resources include full courses, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, resources, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge (Atkins, Brown, & Hammond, 2007)” (O’Byrne p. 278). I am constantly looking up lessons, resources, worksheets, curricula, and activities on the internet from other teachers. People always tell me not to reinvent the wheel, and the internet is the best way to not do that. Of course I will make my own modifications and variations, and usually only pull bits and pieces from any one resource. But the ability to share resources just gives our students better and better ways to access learning. PHeT simulations from the University at Colorado are some of my favorite resources for my chemistry class. I am so thankful that they share these resources for free, they are incredibly helpful and a great way to open up inquiry in the classroom.

“Open Education Resources also have the potential to provide access to resources to any learner regardless of any geographic, economic, or language barriers (Geith & Vignare, 2008 ; Morgan & Carey, 2009)” (O’Byrne p. 278). This is the best part of the world-wide web - the global connectivity of it. There is nothing more amazing than being able to communicate and learn from someone across the globe. This is the greatest advantage of technology yet, and we need to keep using it to our advantage in the classroom.

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    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Rachel,

      I really enjoyed reading your response to this week's readings. I was also very interested to read about how your are using literacy technologies to enhance your classroom.

      In particular, this stuck out for me:

      The unlimited wealth of information is a double-edged sword, and we need to do our best to ensure authenticity from our students. We need to be sure that the questions we ask our students to answer require a synthesis of original and personal thought - that cannot simply be pulled from the internet.

      Not only does technology enhance the learning experience for students through direct interaction, but it also provides teachers will more collaboration and resource sharing as well, which enhances the classroom experience even more.

      I am curious to know more about how your students are responding to this work.

    Week 7

    Sub-Group of Group D

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