Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reflection for 6710 Week 8


This course has helped me develop my technical skills with many different tools. The first assignment to create a blog was my first experience with blogging. Once I read the explanation and instructions from the course Tech Resources tab, I felt confident enough to forge ahead. It really was a simple process of following steps and setting up personal information then I was able to be as creative as I wanted with color, template, etc. Not only did setting up a blog increase my skills, but also posting on the blogs of my colleagues helped as well. Adding RSS feeds leading to their posts from my blog was another technical skill increase, and it made it easy to see the latest communications at one glance. I think the most challenging assignments for me were creating a wiki with my colleagues and creating and posting a podcast to my blog. The wiki was demanding in the sense that communication through technology was a key factor. We also had to learn to edit and add pages which helped me see what my students will encounter as they complete this same assignment in my class. The podcast was fun, but way out of my comfort zone. Not only did I have to learn about and download programs, I also had to record and learn how to add an RSS feed on my blog to the podcast. This course has definitely increased my technical skills.

I will continue to expand my knowledge of technology integration by exploring some of the successful class blogs and wikis suggested in our reading. Another way to help increase student achievement is to blog with colleagues and share activities that apply to my curriculum area and age level. Visiting sites that contain teacher blogs and activities will get me connected to those who are already using technology to increase their students’ achievement. One site I would like to research is Dr. Dede’s that contains actual activities and exercises to use with students. I think this is what will help me the most.

The first long term goal I have is to create a class web site. This would contain my professional experience as well as classroom and grade level information for parents. A calendar of assignments which includes test and project due dates would be helpful for both the students and parents. After students are used to referring to the web page, I would start adding RSS feeds. These feeds would serve different purposes such as connecting students to class blogs to which they would respond as part of assignments as well as connecting students to a picture or poem or news article that is relevant to our class curriculum. The second long term goal I have is to have my classes create podcasts as part of some projects. They could record original writings or group written scenes from a play. They could even expand their podcast and begin to add video to the verbal recordings. In two years time my goal is to utilize technology for at least 40% of instructional practices to increase student achievement.

Susan Cavenaugh

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Response to Partnership for 21st Century Skills

This site is incredible. It is one of the first sites I have found that actually gives specific examples through text, blogs, and video clips of how to implement the 21st century skills in which my students will need to be proficient. Most of these skills are not currently assessed on the standardized tests for my state or county. To me that means that my leadership has not embraced the value of these skills being taught as part of the required curriculum.
One of the pieces of information that surprised me is the suggestion of portfolios to show future employers. I recently heard from a news program that a community job fair stressed to those looking for employment to focus their resumes on what they can do for the companies by which they want to become employed. Until now portfolios have brought to mind writing samples which hopefully show progression of writing abilities throughout a school year. I was impressed that the use of P21 content was made available to educators!
One of the things that concerns me is the money $$$ it will take to bring a 21st century Learning Environment even to affluent districts much less disadvantaged districts. Also, is all learning hands on or most? What basics like reading, writing, math skills, if any, are taught through traditional methods?
The implication for me and my students is that there will have to be a big change in the approach to content mastery. From the research, level of acceptable proficiency, to the assessment of these 21st century skills, a radical shift in learning responsibility will have to be embraced by my district first, then me, then the students.
This web site is invaluable to educators looking for practical ways to change teaching techniques to include technology and bolster much needed skills for our students.
It will definitely be a 'go to' site for me!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Using a blog in my classroom

Chapter two of Richardson's book lists several ways to use weblogs in the classroom on pages 38 and 39. I would start small as he suggests in chapter 5 and create a place to post homework assignments and relevant class links. I was encouraged to find out that there is a "Blogger for Word" tool so I can check for spelling and grammar as I am a Language Arts teacher at the high school level. This would also be a way for me to add links or pictures relating to our literature. I really like the idea of adding video clips as A & E provides excellent documentaries on time periods we cover in my Sophomore World Literature classes. I also liked the idea of posting a question each day for them to think about and respond to as I feel more comfortable with the class blog concept. I was encouraged to find out that there is a "Blogger for Word" tool so I can check for spelling and grammar as I am a Language Arts teacher at the high school level. Having students respond to the literature we are reading would be a helpful assessment tool as not all students feel comfortable volunteering answers or speaking out in class as well as there is usually not time to hear from every student in a 52 minute class period. Requiring individual responses forces the student to analyze and synthesize their own opinions and responses to class content.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

First Blog

Wow! I did not know it was so easy to create a blog. The most difficult part was typing in the wavy nonsense word for security! I am curious as to how much response I will receive on postings. I am hoping for great conversations about implementing technology because I am still learning the terminology (RSS, Aggregators, etc.).